Currently, only about 30-50% of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) patients respond to IFN-based therapy. It has been suggested that IL-10 is involved in suppressing the activity of type I IFNs on antigen-presenting cells (APCs). However, the interaction between type I IFNs and IL-10 is still not clear. Here we report that IFN-α priming upregulated the expression of IL-10R1 on monocytes, and subsequently IL-10 induced a higher level of STAT3 phosphorylation in IFN-primed cells. This indicates that IFN-α increased the sensitivity of monocytes to IL-10, and as a result, TLR-induced IL-12p70 by IFN-pretreated cells was suppressed. Interestingly, both IFN-β and IL-29, a member of the type III IFN family, comparably sensitized monocytes and macrophages to IL-10 stimulation, indicating a general effect of IFN on the activity of IL-10 in APCs. In summary, we demonstrate that one of the consequences of priming human APCs with IFN is to promote the cells' sensitivity to IL-10, which leads to the inhibition of TLR-induced IL-12p70 production. Therefore, type I and III IFNs induce a suboptimal activation of immune cells. These findings are relevant for the development of strategies to further improve IFN-based therapy for patients with multiple sclerosis or viral hepatitis.

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Keywords Antiviral, IFN-lambda, IL-29, Immunoregulation, Interferon
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Journal European Journal of Immunology
Liu, B.-S, Janssen, H.L.A, & Boonstra, P.A. (2012). Type I and III interferons enhance IL-10R expression on human monocytes and macrophages, resulting in IL-10-mediated suppression of TLR-induced IL-12. European Journal of Immunology, 42(9), 2431–2440. doi:10.1002/eji.201142360