Antagonizing deactivating cytokines to enhance host defense and chemotherapy in experimental visceral leishmaniasis
In experimental visceral leishmaniasis, inhibition of interleukin 10 (IL-10) signaling enhances Th1-cell-associated responses, promoting gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) secretion, granuloma assembly, macrophage activation with substantial liver parasite killing, and synergy with pentavalent antimony (Sb) chemotherapy. To determine if inhibiting other suppressive cytokines has similar therapeutic potential, Leishmania donovani-infected BALB/c mice were injected with anti-IL-4 monoclonal antibody or receptor fusion antagonists of IL-13 or transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta). Targeting IL-13 or TGF-beta enabled inhibition of L. donovani replication but little parasite killing; anti-IL-4 had no effect. None of the three antagonists promoted IFN-gamma production, granuloma maturation, or Sb efficacy. Excess IL-13 and TGF-beta exacerbated liver infection; however, effects were transient. Among IL-10, IL-4, IL-13, and TGF-beta, cytokines capable of disabling Th1-cell mechanisms (including those which support chemotherapy), IL-10 appears to be the appropriate target for therapeutic inhibition in visceral L. donovani infection.