Interleukin-10 rescues T cells from apoptotic cell death: association with an upregulation of Bcl-2

Immunology. 1997 Sep;92(1):1-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2567.1997.00348.x.


We demonstrate that interleukin-10 (IL-10) can inhibit T-cell apoptosis. T cells, within a PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cell) population, were stimulated via the T-cell receptor and grown in the presence of IL-2. These cells had less apoptosis when in the continuous presence of IL-10, compared with cells grown in the absence of IL-10. Conversely, when stimulated and grown in the presence of neutralizing antibody of IL-10, there was an increase in T-cell apoptosis. The in vitro rescue from apoptotic cell death of other lymphoid cells, such as germinal centre B cells, has been shown by others to involve a Bcl-2 pathway. We therefore investigated whether IL-10 might affect the Bcl-2 expression on cultured T cells. By Western blotting we demonstrated that continuous exposure of IL-10 to T cells (within a PBMC population) enhanced the expression of Bcl-2. Furthermore, T cells protected from apoptotic cell death by IL-10 were indistinguishable from viable untreated cells in their ability to proliferate to either immobilized anti-CD3 or IL-2. Thus, we have shown that continuous culture of T cells in the presence of IL-10 will inhibit T-cell apoptosis because of, at least in part, the upregulation of Bcl-2, and this is associated with a normal proliferative function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Up-Regulation / immunology*


  • Interleukin-2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Interleukin-10