IL-10 is a pleiotropic cytokine that inhibits several immune parameters, including Th1 cell-mediated immune responses, antigen presentation, and antigen-specific T cell proliferation. Recent data implicate IL-10 as a mediator of suppression of cell-mediated immunity induced by exposure to UVB radiation (280-320 nm). To investigate the effects of IL-10 on the cutaneous immune system, we engineered transgenic mice that overexpress viral IL-10 (vIL-10) in the epidermis. vIL-10 transgenic mice demonstrated a reduced number of I-A+ epidermal and dermal cells and fewer I-A+ hapten-bearing cells in regional lymph nodes after hapten painting of the skin. Reduced CD80 and CD86 expression by I-A+ epidermal cells was also observed. vIL-10 transgenic mice demonstrated a smaller delayed-type hypersensitivity response to allogeneic cells upon challenge but had normal contact hypersensitivity to an epicutaneously applied hapten. Fresh epidermal cells from vIL-10 transgenic mice showed a decreased ability to stimulate allogeneic T cell proliferation, as did splenocytes. Additionally, chronic exposure of mice to UVB radiation led to the development of fewer skin tumors in vIL-1 0 mice than in WT controls, and vIL-10 transgenic mice had increased splenic NK cell activity against YAC-1targets. These findings support the concept that IL-10 is an important regulator of cutaneous immune function.
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