Autoantibodies to IL-12 in myasthenia gravis patients with thymoma; effects on the IFN-gamma responses of healthy CD4+ T cells.
Zhang W., Liu JL., Meager A., Newsom-Davis J., Willcox N.
In humans, interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) normally favor IFN-gamma-producing "Th1" T cell responses. Myasthenia gravis (MG) patients with thymomas frequently have high-titer neutralizing autoantibodies against these cytokines, but not against IFN-gamma. Because they occasionally develop intractable (even fatal) infections, we have tested effects of their sera on the generation of IFN-gamma responses by healthy adult T cells to autologous lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated dendritic cells (DC). Anti-IL-12(+) sera consistently reduced IFN-gamma responses substantially, whether assessed by intracellular staining or ELISA. Therefore, thymoma patients with intractable infections might benefit from cautious IFN-gamma therapy. We discuss wider implications of the surprising rarity of clear clinical hazards-or benefits-of these autoantibodies.