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Nat Immunol. 2004 Aug;5(8):818-27. Epub 2004 Jul 18.

T cells express a phagocyte-type NADPH oxidase that is activated after T cell receptor stimulation.

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  • 1Laboratory of Host Defenses, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation induces rapid generation of reactive oxygen species, although the mechanisms for this are unclear. Here we found that T cells expressed a functional phagocyte-type nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase. TCR crosslinking induced oxidase activation through the recruitment of preformed Fas ligand and Fas. TCR stimulation induced three separable events generating reactive oxygen species: rapid hydrogen peroxide production independent of Fas or NADPH oxidase; sustained hydrogen peroxide production dependent on both Fas and NADPH oxidase; and delayed superoxide production that was dependent on Fas ligand and Fas yet independent of NADPH oxidase. NADPH oxidase-deficient T cells showed enhanced activation of the kinase Erk and a relative increase in T helper type 1 cytokine secretion. Thus, mature T cells express a phagocyte-type NADPH oxidase that regulates elements of TCR signaling.

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