IL-21 receptor plays an essential role in the Th2 immune response

June 15, 2006

During the immune response cells known as Th2 cells express a variety of cytokines (e.g. interleukin-4, -5, and -13), many of which stimulate B cells to proliferate and produce antibodies. This reaction is known as a Th2 immune response. In a study appearing online on June 15 in advance of print publication in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Thomas Wynn and colleagues from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland, investigated the role of a newly discovered cytokine receptor, the IL-21 receptor (IL-21R), in the Th2 response. To do this they infected mice that lacked IL-21R with 2 parasites known to induce the Th2 response: Schistosoma mansoni and Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. They found that inflammation and liver fibrosis were significantly reduced in infected IL-21R-deficient mice compared to normal infected mice. The authors determined that IL-21R has an essential role in the development of pathogen-induced Th2 immune responses and is an important amplifier of alternative macrophage activation. These findings may have relevance for the understanding and treatment of both inflammatory and chronic fibrotic diseases.
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