To assess the role of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) in children with bacterial meningitis, bioactive IL-12 (p70) and the inactive subunit p40 and IFN-gamma were measured in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 35 children with bacterial meningitis and 10 control subjects. The production of IFN-gamma is induced by IL-12 with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) as a costimulator and inhibited by IL-10. CSF concentrations of IL-12 p40 as well as those of IFN-gamma were markedly elevated, whereas IL-12 p70 was hardly detectable. Detectable CSF levels of IFN-gamma correlated positively with IL-12 p40 (r = 0.40, P = 0.02) and TNF-alpha (r = 0.46, P = 0.04) but not with IL-6, IL-8, or IL-10. In contrast to CSF levels of TNF-alpha, IL-12, and IL-10, those of IFN-gamma were significantly higher in patients with pneumococcal meningitis than in children with meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis, presumably because of a high CSF TNF-alpha/IL-10 ratio in the former. We suggest that IL-12- and TNF-alpha-induced IFN-gamma production may contribute to the natural immunity against microorganisms in the CSF compartment during the acute phase of bacterial meningitis.

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Infection and Immunity
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kornelisse, R., Hack, E., Savelkoul, H., van der Pouw Kraan, T., Hop, W., van Mierlo, G., … de Groot, R. (1997). Intrathecal production of interleukin-12 and gamma interferon in patients with bacterial meningitis. Infection and Immunity. Retrieved from