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J Immunol. 2010 Nov 1;185(9):5188-97. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001990. Epub 2010 Sep 29.

Th cells act via two synergistic pathways to promote antiviral CD8+ T cell responses.

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  • 1Institute for Microbiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich), Zürich, Switzerland.


The mechanisms of how Th cells promote CD8(+) T cell responses during viral infections are largely unknown. In this study, we unraveled the mechanisms of T cell help for CD8(+) T cell responses during vaccinia virus infection. Our results demonstrate that Th cells promote vaccinia virus-specific CD8(+) T cell responses via two interconnected synergistic pathways: First, CD40L expressed by activated CD4(+) T cells instructs dendritic cells to produce bioactive IL-12p70, which is directly sensed by Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells, resulting in increased IL-2Rα expression. Second, Th cells provide CD8(+) T cells with IL-2, thereby enhancing their survival. Thus, Th cells are at the center of an important communication loop with a central role for IL-2/IL-2R and bioactive IL-12.

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