The anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10 plays an important role in the regulation of host-immune responses. Here we studied the role IL-10 plays in host responses to cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. We demonstrate that manifestations of murine CMV (MCMV) disease are more severe in IL-10 knock-out mice, despite significantly reduced levels of viral replication. Cytokine analysis of serum revealed increased levels of interferon (IFN)-γ, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and IL-6, all of which are potent stimulators of inflammatory responses. Depletion of IFN-γ by monoclonal antibodies in IL-10 knock-out mice failed to improve the physical condition of the mice, while increasing viral replication. In contrast, serum levels of IL-6 in the knock-out animals were unaffected by IFN-γ depletion and remained significantly elevated early in the course of infection. These data suggest that increased weight loss observed in IL-10 knock-out mice may be attributed to the uncontrolled production of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-6.
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