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J Immunol. 1999 Jun 1;162(11):6690-700.

CD40-CD40 ligand interaction is central to cell-mediated immunity against Toxoplasma gondii: patients with hyper IgM syndrome have a defective type 1 immune response that can be restored by soluble CD40 ligand trimer.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, OH 46267, USA.


Cell-mediated immunity that results in IL-12/IFN-gamma production is essential to control infections by intracellular organisms. Studies in animal models revealed contrasting results in regard to the importance of CD40-CD40 ligand (CD40L) signaling for induction of a type 1 cytokine response against these pathogens. We demonstrate that CD40-CD40L interaction in humans is critical for generation of the IL-12/IFN-gamma immune response against Toxoplasma gondii. Infection of monocytes with T. gondii resulted in up-regulation of CD40. CD40-CD40L signaling was required for optimal T cell production of IFN-gamma in response to T. gondii. Moreover, patients with hyper IgM (HIGM) syndrome exhibited a defect in IFN-gamma secretion in response to the parasite and evidence compatible with impaired in vivo T cell priming after T. gondii infection. Not only was IL-12 production in response to T. gondii dependent on CD40-CD40L signaling, but also, patients with HIGM syndrome exhibited deficient in vitro secretion of this cytokine in response to the parasite. Finally, in vitro incubation with agonistic soluble CD40L trimer enhanced T. gondii-triggered production of IFN-gamma and, through induction of IL-12 secretion, corrected the defect in IFN-gamma production observed in HIGM patients. Our results are likely to explain the susceptibility of patients with HIGM syndrome to infections by opportunistic pathogens.

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