Department of Cardiology, University Hospital, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Effects of IL-10 on endothelium-dependent T cell activation have not been investigated in detail. We confirm expression of the IL-10 receptor and effective signaling via STAT-3 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). In CD4 T cell cocultures with HUVEC, pretreatment of endothelial cells with IL-10 resulted in significant dose-dependent inhibition of CD4 T cell proliferation, which also occurred when IL-10 was removed after pretreatment before starting cocultures. Th1/Th2 polarization of proliferated T cells, endothelial nitric oxide (NO), or IL-12 production were unchanged. However, IL-10 stimulation resulted in up-regulation of SOCS-3, a negative regulator of cytokine secretion, and induction of the inhibitory surface molecules immunoglobulin-like transcript 3 and 4 (ILT3/ILT4) in EC, potentially involving glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ). Addition of blocking antibodies against ILT3/ILT4 to EC/T cell cocultures resulted in nearly complete reestablishment of T cell proliferation. In contrast, addition of soluble ILT3 or overexpression of ILT3 in cocultures significantly reduced T cell proliferation. No induction of foxp3+ regulatory T cells was seen. In conclusion, the T cell costimulatory potential of human EC is markedly suppressed by IL-10 due to up-regulation of ILT3/ILT4, obviously not involving generation of Treg. This identifies a novel action of IL-10 in EC and a potential therapeutical target for local immunomodulation.