The presence of soluble antigen-antibody complexes renders mice highly susceptible to infection with the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. In this report we show that this inhibition is manifest at the level of the innate immune response and is mediated by IL-10. Like immuno-competent mice, mice with the severe combined immunodeficient mutation (SCID) injected with immune complexes died from a sublethal dose of L. monocytogenes. These mice were protected if pretreated with neutralizing antibodies to IL-10. In vitro, immune complexes stimulated IL-10 production by SCID splenocytes and splenic macrophages. Likewise, immune complexes inhibited TNF and IFN-gamma production by SCID splenocytes cultured with heat-killed-L. monocytogenes. This inhibition was reversed by neutralization of IL-10 but not IL-4 or TGF-beta. Immune complexes and rIL-10 inhibited cytokine production by SCID splenocytes if added before or simultaneously with heat-killed-L. monocytogenes. These data support a model in which immune complexes modulate host defense and the immune response by stimulating the production of IL-10 from macrophages.
C S Tripp, K P Beckerman, E R Unanue