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Infect Immun. 2002 Jan;70(1):335-44.

Neisserial immunoglobulin A1 protease induces specific T-cell responses in humans.

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  • 1Abteilung Molekulare Biologie. Zentralbereich Mikroskopie, Max-Planck-Institut für Infektionsbiologie, D-10117 Berlin, Germany.


We have previously shown that immunoglobulin A1 (IgA1) protease, an exoenzyme of pathogenic neisseriae, can trigger the release of proinflammatory cytokines from human monocytic subpopulations. Here, we demonstrate a dose-dependent T-cell response to recombinant gonococcal IgA1 protease (strain MS11) in healthy human blood donors. This response was delayed in comparison to the immune response against tetanus toxoid. Stimulation with IgA1 protease led to the activation of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, as well as CD19(+) B cells and CD56(+) NK cells, indicated by de novo expression of CD69. Only CD4(+) T cells proliferated and stained positive for intracellular gamma interferon (IFN-gamma). Both proliferation and IFN-gamma production were dependent on antigen presentation via major histocompatibility complex class II. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with IgA1 protease produce IFN-gamma and tumor necrosis factor alpha but no, or very low amounts of, interleukin-10 (IL-10) or IL-4, indicating a Th1-based proinflammatory immune response. These findings support the significance of IgA1 protease as a virulence determinant of bacterial meningitis and its function as a dominant proinflammatory T-cell antigen.

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