IL-27 Signaling Promotes Th1 Responses and Is Required to Inhibit Fungal Growth in the Lung during Repeated Exposure to Aspergillus fumigatus
Immunohorizons. 2022 Jan 21;6(1):78-89. doi: 10.4049/immunohorizons.2100117.
Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes a wide spectrum of diseases in humans, including life-threatening invasive infections as well as several hypersensitivity respiratory disorders. Disease prevention is predicated on the host’s ability to clear A. fumigatus from the lung while also limiting inflammation and preventing allergic responses. IL-27 is an important immunoregulatory cytokine, but its role during A. fumigatus infection remains poorly understood. In contrast to most infection settings demonstrating that IL-27 is anti-inflammatory, in this study we report that this cytokine plays a proinflammatory role in mice repeatedly infected with A. fumigatus We found that mice exposed to A. fumigatus had significantly enhanced secretion of IL-27 in their lungs. Genetic ablation of IL-27Rα in mice resulted in significantly higher fungal burdens in the lung during infection. The increased fungal growth in IL-27Rα-/- mice was associated with reduced secretion of IL-12, TNF-α, and IFN-γ, diminished T-bet expression, as well as a reduction in CD4+ T cells and their activation in the lung, demonstrating that IL-27 signaling promotes Th1 immune responses during repeated exposure to A. fumigatus In addition, infected IL-27Rα-/- mice displayed reduced accumulation of dendritic cells and exudate macrophages in their lungs, and these cells had a lower expression of MHC class II. Collectively, this study suggests that IL-27 drives type 1 immunity and is indispensable for inhibiting fungal growth in the lungs of mice repeatedly exposed to A. fumigatus, highlighting a protective role for this cytokine during fungal infection.