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Hum Immunol. 2011 Feb;72(2):115-23. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2010.10.015. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Interleukin-21 and cellular activation concurrently induce potent cytotoxic function and promote antiviral activity in human CD8 T cells.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA.


Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 induces a progressive deterioration of the immune system that ultimately leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Murine models indicate that the common γ-chain (γ(c))-sharing cytokine interleukin (IL)-21 and its receptor (IL-21R) play a crucial role in maintaining polyfunctional T cell responses during chronic viral infections. Therefore, we analyzed the ability of this cytokine to modulate the properties of human CD8 T cells in comparison with other γ(c)-sharing cytokines (IL-2, IL-7, and IL-15). CD8 T cells from healthy volunteers were stimulated in vitro via T cell receptor signals to mimic the heightened status of immune activation of HIV-infected patients. The administration of IL-21 upregulated cytotoxic effector function and the expression of the costimulatory molecule CD28. Notably, this outcome was not accompanied by increased cellular proliferation or activation. Moreover, IL-21 promoted antiviral activity while not inducing HIV-1 replication in vitro. Thus, IL-21 may be a favorable molecule for immunotherapy and a suitable vaccine adjuvant in HIV-infected individuals.

Copyright © 2011 American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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