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Immunology. 1993 Oct;80(2):197-203.

Stimulation of antigen-specific T- and B-cell memory in local as well as systemic lymphoid tissues following oral immunization with cholera toxin adjuvant.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Göteborg, Sweden.


In the present study we investigated immunological memory at the cellular level following oral immunization using cholera toxin (CT) as the mucosal adjuvant. We found that memory cells, isolated from mice orally primed with keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) admixed with CT adjuvant 8 months earlier, responded by increased proliferation to antigen-challenge in vitro. In contrast, unstimulated memory cells or KLH-stimulated cells from naive mice did not respond. Memory cells were isolated from different lymphoid tissues; spleen (SP), mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN), Peyer's patches (PP) as well as the intestinal lamina propria (LP). Thus, oral immunization using CT adjuvant promoted the generation of memory cells that were present in both systemic and local intestinal lymphoid tissues. The demonstration of lymphokine production in the KLH-responsive cultures indicated the presence of antigen-specific memory T cells. Lymphokine production early in culture was dominated by interleukin-2 (IL-2), which peaked on day 2-3, followed by IL-5 and, in particular, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) which increased over time. Lamina propria memory cells were found to proliferate poorly to recall antigen in vitro compared to lymphocytes from SP or MLN. In contrast, very significant production of IL-5 and, in particular, IFN-gamma was demonstrable in LP cell cultures. The use of CT adjuvant also stimulated the generation of antigen-specific memory B cells following oral immunization. This was evidenced by KLH-specific antibody production in antigen-challenged memory lymphocyte cultures. The memory B cells produced IgM anti-KLH, while no detectable antigen-specific IgG or IgA was found. Unstimulated memory cells or naive cells failed to produce anti-KLH antibodies. These in vitro findings provide evidence that oral immunization using CT adjuvant stimulates both antigen-specific memory T and B cells. Furthermore, our data suggest the existence of memory B cells following oral CT adjuvant immunization which have retained the ability to produce IgM and which therefore probably have not undergone terminal isotype switch differentiation to other isotypes and thus have not deleted the mu constant heavy-chain gene. Finally, our data also suggest that memory T and B cells, either sessile in the various lymphoid tissues or recirculating, can be activated by antigen in situ in, for example, lymph nodes and spleen and, more importantly, in the intestinal LP itself.

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