Fumarates improve multiple sclerosis (MS) and psoriasis, two diseases in which both IL-12 and IL-23 promote pathogenic T helper (Th) cell differentiation. However, both diseases show opposing responses to most established therapies. First, we show in humans that fumarate treatment induces IL-4-producing Th2 cells in vivo and generates type II dendritic cells (DCs) that produce IL-10 instead of IL-12 and IL-23. In mice, fumarates also generate type II DCs that induce IL-4-producing Th2 cells in vitro and in vivo and protect mice from experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Type II DCs result from fumarateinduced glutathione (GSH) depletion, followed by increased hemoxygenase-1 (HO-1) expression and impaired STAT1 phosphorylation. Induced HO-1 is cleaved, whereupon the N-terminal fragment of HO-1 translocates into the nucleus and interacts with AP-1 and NF-κB sites of the IL-23p19 promoter. This interaction prevents IL-23p19 transcription without affecting IL-12p35, whereas STAT1 inactivation prevents IL-12p35 transcription without affecting IL-23p19. As a consequence, GSH depletion by small molecules such as fumarates induces type II DCs in mice and in humans that ameliorate inflammatory autoimmune diseases. This therapeutic approach improves Th1- and Th17-mediated autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and MS by interfering with IL-12 and IL-23 production.
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