Because of its ability to efficiently inhibit in vitro cytokine production by activated macrophages, we hypothesized that interleukin (IL) 10 might be of particular interest in preventing endotoxin-induced toxicity. We therefore examined the effects of IL-10 administration before lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge in mice. A marked reduction in the amounts of LPS-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF) release in the circulation was observed after IL-10 pretreatment at doses at low as 10 U. IL-10 also efficiently prevented the hypothermia generated by the injection of 100 micrograms LPS. Finally, pretreatment with a single injection of 1,000 U IL-10 completely prevented the mortality consecutive to the challenge with 500 micrograms LPS, a dose that was lethal in 50% of the control mice. We conclude that IL-10 inhibits in vivo TNF secretion and protects against the lethality of endotoxin in a murine model of septic shock.

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