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Open Access Research article

Human, viral or mutant human IL-10 expressed after local adenovirus-mediated gene transfer are equally effective in ameliorating disease pathology in a rabbit knee model of antigen-induced arthritis

Annahita Keravala, Eric R Lechman, Joan Nash, Zhibao Mi and Paul D Robbins*

Author Affiliations

Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R91  doi:10.1186/ar1960

Published: 16 May 2006

Abstract

IL-10 is a Th2 cytokine important for inhibiting cell-mediated immunity while promoting humoral responses. Human IL-10 (hIL-10) has anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive as well as immunostimulatory characteristics, whereas viral IL-10 (vIL-10), a homologue of hIL-10 encoded by Epstein Barr virus (EBV), lacks several immunostimulatory functions. The immunostimulatory characteristic of hIL-10 has been attributed to a single amino acid, isoleucine at position 87, which in vIL-10 is alanine. A mutant hIL-10 in which isoleucine has been substituted (mut.hIL-10) is biologically active with only immunosuppressive, but not immunostimulatory, functions, making it a potentially superior therapeutic for inflammatory diseases. To compare the efficacy of mut.hIL-10 with hIL-10 and vIL-10 in blocking the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, we used replication defective adenoviral vectors to deliver intra-articularly the gene encoding hIL-10, vIL-10 or mut.hIL-10 to antigen-induced arthritic (AIA) knee joints in rabbits. Intra-articular expression of hIL-10, vIL-10, and mut.hIL-10 resulted in significant improvement of the pathology in the treated joints to similar levels. These observed changes included a significant reduction in intra-articular leukocytosis and the degree of synovitis, as well as normalization of cartilage matrix metabolism. Our results suggest that hIL-10, vIL-10, and mut.hIL-10 are all equally therapeutic in the rabbit AIA model for treating disease pathology.