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J Immunol. 2000 Jun 15;164(12):6206-12.

Sustained expression of CD154 (CD40L) and proinflammatory cytokine production by alloantigen-stimulated umbilical cord blood T cells.

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  • 1Department of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, National Blood Service of London and The South East, United Kingdom.


Recent data suggests that graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is initiated by host APCs. Blockade of CD40:CD154 interactions between APCs and T cells in vivo induces T cell tolerance to host alloantigen and dramatically reduces GVHD. Because allogeneic cord blood (CB) transplantation results in a lower incidence and severity of acute GVHD compared with bone marrow transplantation, we have investigated whether CB T cells can express CD154 in response to stimulation by allogeneic monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC) and have used 5- (and 6-)carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) labeling in combination with intracellular cytokine analysis to assess the proliferation and cytokine profiles of alloantigen-responsive cells. CB T cells stimulated with allogeneic MDDC showed stronger proliferation than adult blood T cells. Surface CD154 expression was detected in the actively dividing CFSElow populations of both the CD4+ and CD4- subsets and was brightest in cells that had divided the most. Assessment of supernatants from MDDC-stimulated CB and adult blood T cells showed no significant difference in the levels of either IFN-gamma or TNF-alpha, but CB T cell supernatants did show a significant lack of detectable IL-2. Intracellular cytokine analysis revealed that dividing CB T cells had been primed to produce IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, and IL-2 on restimulation. Further phenotype analysis showed that 75% of CB T cells producing IFN-gamma were CD8+. These data suggest that MDDC-stimulated CB T cells express functional CD154 and provide enough costimulation for dendritic cells to prime naive CD8+ CB T cells and induce type 1 cytokine production.

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