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IL-12+IL-18 Cosignaling in Human Macrophages and Lung Epithelial Cells Activates Cathelicidin and Autophagy, Inhibiting Intracellular Mycobacterial Growth


The ability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to block host antimicrobial responses in infected cells provides a key mechanism for disease pathogenesis. The immune system has evolved to overcome this blockade to restrict the infection, but it is not clear whether two key innate cytokines (IL-12/IL-18) involved in host defense can enhance antimycobacterial mechanisms. In this study, we demonstrated that the combination of IL-12 and IL-18 triggered an antimicrobial response against mycobacteria in infected macrophages (THP-1 and human primary monocyte-derived macrophages) and pulmonary epithelial A549 cells. The inhibition of intracellular bacterial growth required p38-MAPK and STAT4 pathways, the vitamin D receptor, the vitamin D receptor-derived antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin, and autophagy, but not caspase-mediated apoptosis. Finally, the ability of IL-12+IL-18 to activate an innate antimicrobial response in human primary macrophages was dependent on the autonomous production of IFN-γ and the CAMP/autophagy pathway. Together, these data suggest that IL-12+IL-18 cosignaling can trigger the antimicrobial protein cathelicidin and autophagy, resulting in inhibition of intracellular mycobacteria in macrophages and lung epithelial cells.

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