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IL-23 is a member of the IL-12 cytokine family that drives a highly pathogenic T cell population involved in the initiation of autoimmune diseases. We have shown that IL-23–dependent, pathogenic T cells produced IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-6, and TNF but not IFN-g or IL-4. We now show that T-bet and STAT1 transcription factors are not required for the initial production of IL-17. However, optimal IL-17 production in response to IL-23 stimulation appears to require the presence of T-bet. To explore the clinical efficacy of targeting the IL-23 immune pathway, we generated anti–IL-23p19–specific antibodies and tested to determine whether blocking IL-23 function can inhibit EAE, a preclinical animal model of human multiple sclerosis. Anti–IL-23p19 treatment reduced the serum level of IL-17 as well as CNS expression of IFN-g, IP-10, IL-17, IL-6, and TNF mRNA. In addition, therapeutic treatment with anti–IL-23p19 during active disease inhibited proteolipid protein (PLP) epitope spreading and prevented subsequent disease relapse. Thus, therapeutic targeting of IL-23 effectively inhibited multiple inflammatory pathways that are critical for driving CNS autoimmune inflammation.
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