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Immunology. 1994 Sep;83(1):16-24.

Concomitant in vivo production of 19 different cytokines in human tonsils.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Arrhenius Laboratories for Natural Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden.


Accumulating data indicate that cytokines, peptides involved in regulation of both physiological and pathological immune responses, are produced predominantly at the site of local antigen stimulation. Cytokine-producing cells were detected at the protein level in human tonsil tissue obtained from children with recurrent tonsillitis or infectious mononucleosis (IM). Concomitant production of 19 different human cytokines, interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), IL-1 beta, IL-1 receptor antagonist (ra), IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), G-CSF, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), TNF-beta, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and transforming growth factor-beta 1-3 (TGF-beta 1-3), was identified at a single-cell level by indirect immunohistochemical staining procedures and use of carefully selected cytokine-specific antibodies (Ab). Fresh frozen sections were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde and permeabilized by 0.1% saponin treatment, eluting cholesterol from the cell-surface membrane and the Golgi complex. The intracellular localization of all cytokines, except IL-1 and IL-1ra, was demonstrated by a characteristic local cytoplasmic perinuclear configuration in producer cells. In addition, the immunoreactivity for certain cytokines (IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, G-CSF and GM-CSF) was expressed on the cell membranes and extended over a large extracellular area encompassing the producer cell. Localization of the cytokine to the Golgi organelle was established by co-staining with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) specific to the Golgi complex. Both the extra- and intracellular cytokine staining reactions could be blocked by preincubation of the cytokine-specific Ab with the corresponding purified natural or recombinant cytokine. A complex cytokine pattern was established in both groups studied, where most T-helper type 1 (Th1) and Th2 lymphokines were expressed in the tonsils but at different frequencies and localizations. Cells expressing IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13, (Th2 response) were evident at higher frequencies in recurrent tonsillitis compared to sections from IM, which were associated with a more pronounced IL-2, IFN-gamma and TNF-beta expression.

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