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J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Mar;124(3):562-9.

Deficient contact hypersensitivity reaction in CD4-/- mice is because of impaired hapten-specific CD8+ T cell functions.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U503, Lyon Cedex, France.


Mice deficient in the CD4 molecule (CD4-/-) are widely used to evaluate the requirement for CD4+ T cell help in viral, tumoral, and transplantation immunity. Previous studies, showing that CD4-/- mice develop impaired contact hypersensitivity (CHS) responses, have suggested that CD4+ T cells are required for the optimal induction of this skin inflammatory reaction. other studies have, however, demonstrated that CHS was mediated by CD8+ T cells, without the need for CD4+ T cell help. Here, we show that CD4-/- mice develop a normal delayed-type hypersensitivity response to protein antigen, which is mediated by major histocompatibility molecules class II-restricted CD4-CD8- T cells, but a decreased CHS response to 2,4-dinitro-fluorobenezene. Analysis of the hapten-specific T cell pool demonstrates that priming of CD8+ T cells occurred normally in CD4-/- mice, as assessed by specific proliferative responses and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production of purified CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, CD8+ T cells were able to adoptively transfer a normal CHS reaction. In contrast, total lymph node cells from CD4-/- mice showed decreased IFN-gamma production and diminished specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) activity, which could be reversed by in vitro restimulation with hapten-pulsed class II-deficient antigen-presenting cells. These data confirm that class I-restricted CD8+ T cells can fully develop in effectors of CHS in the absence of CD4+ T cell help and suggest that the impaired CHS in CD4-/- mice is because of the presence of a class II-restricted T cell subset, which controls CHS by inhibiting hapten-specific CTL responses.

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