The IL-12 cytokine and receptor family in graft-vs.-host disease

David Bastian, Yongxia Wu, Brian C. Betts, Xue Zhong Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) is performed with curative intent for high- risk blood cancers and bone marrow failure syndromes; yet the development of acute and chronic disease (GVHD) remain preeminent causes of death and morbidity. The IL-12 family of cytokines is comprised of IL-12, IL-23, IL-27, IL-35, and IL-39. This family of cytokines is biologically distinct in that they are composed of functional heterodimers, which bind to cognate heterodimeric receptor chains expressed on T cells. Of these, IL-12 and IL-23 share a common β cytokine subunit, p40, as well as a receptor chain: IL-12Rβ1. IL-12 and IL-23 have been documented as proinflammatory mediators of GVHD, responsible for T helper 1 (Th1) differentiation and T helper 17 (Th17) stabilization, respectively. The role of IL-27 is less defined, seemingly immune suppressive via IL-10 secretion by Type 1 regulatory (Tr1) cells yet promoting inflammation through impairing CD4+ T regulatory (Treg) development and/or enhancing Th1 differentiation. More recently, IL-35 was described as a potent anti-inflammatory agent produced by regulatory B and T cells. The role of the newest member, IL-39, has been implicated in proinflammatory B cell responses but has not been explored in the context of allo-HCT. This review is directed at discussing the current literature relevant to each IL-12-family cytokine and cognate receptor engagement, as well as the consequential downstream signaling implications, during GVHD pathogenesis. Additionally, we will provide an overview of translational strategies targeting the IL-12 family cytokines, their receptors, and subsequent signal transduction to control GVHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number988
Pages (from-to)988
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 Bastian, Wu, Betts and Yu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • Cytokine
  • Cytokine receptor
  • GVHD
  • GVT
  • HCT
  • IL-12 cytokines
  • IL-12 family cytokine receptors
  • Signal transduction

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Review
  • Journal Article


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