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J Immunol. 1992 Nov 15;149(10):3157-65.

Analysis of CD4+ T cells that provide contact-dependent bystander help to B cells.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0063.


Although cognate, MHC-restricted interaction of Th cells with Ag-presenting B cells provides effective help to a resting B cell, substantial B cell responses have also been seen with preactivated T cell clones that cannot recognize Ag on the B cell but apparently interact in a noncognate fashion (the bystander response). Here, we have investigated the ability of distinct Th cell subsets and T cells activated by different stimuli to support such bystander B cell responses. We have also determined which cytokines are involved. We generated distinct CD4+ T cell subsets specific for both alloantigen (using normal mice) and cytochrome c (using TCR transgenic mice). To compare cognate and bystander help, we analyzed the response of allogeneic (cognate) vs syngeneic (bystander) resting B cells in the former case, and the response of syngeneic B cells in the presence vs absence of Ag, in the latter case. Both approaches gave similar results. T cells stimulated with Ag for 24 h (naive and memory cells) or generated from naive cells over 4 days in the presence of exogenous IL-2 ("Th1-like" effectors) induced B cells to secrete minimal amounts of bystander Ig (20 to 700 ng/ml), less than 6% of the Ig induced under cognate conditions. In contrast, effectors generated in IL-4 or IL-6 ("Th2-like" and "Th0-like") induced significantly more bystander Ig (4 to 9 micrograms/ml), which was 18 to 30% of the amount produced during a cognate response. Restimulation of Th cell populations with anti-CD3, instead of Ag/APC, enhanced their ability to induce bystander Ig to levels 40 to 100% of those produced through cognate interaction. The addition of anti-cytokine Ab to bystander responses indicated that the cytokines utilized were similar to those mediating response after cognate interaction. Addition of exogenous cytokines did not specifically enhance the extent of the bystander response as a function of the cognate response. These results suggest that most Th cells can efficiently activate only those B cells that present relevant Ag on class II MHC, but that highly activated/differentiated Th effectors also have the ability to induce significant bystander B cell responses through noncognate interactions. We also conclude that the mode of Th cell activation and the cytokines encountered during Th differentiation play a major role in the capacity of helper cells to initiate a bystander response.

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