Objective: Although interleukin (IL)-10 is an immunoregulatory cytokine produced by various cells including T cells, its precise role in asthma remains uncertain. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of IL-10 in experimental asthma using ovalbumin (OVA)-sensitized mice. Methodology: Mice were challenged with OVA aerosol, and airway responsiveness and inflammation were measured. OVA-specific IL-10-producing CD4+ T cells were counted from lung cells collected by enzymatic digestion and stimulated ex vivo with OVA. The effects of an anti-IL-10 antibody on airway responsiveness and inflammation were also evaluated. Results: The OVA challenge caused airway hyperresponsiveness and eosinophilic inflammation. A significant increase in IL-10-producing CD4+ T cells was observed, mainly in the CD45RB low subset, for several days after the OVA challenge. Anti-IL-10 antibody treatment before the OVA challenge did not affect eosinophilic inflammation but significantly inhibited airway hyperresponsiveness 24 h after the OVA challenge. However, anti-IL-10 antibody treatment just before the last OVA challenge significantly attenuated the resolution of eosinophilic inflammation without affecting airway responsiveness 2 weeks after the OVA challenge. Conclusions: Intrinsic IL-10 may have a distinct role in the early and late phases of asthmatic responses. In the early phase, IL-10 induces airway hyperresponsiveness, while in the late phase IL-10 contributes to the resolution of eosinophilic inflammation.
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