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Cell Immunol. 1999 Jun 15;194(2):150-61.

Single-cell analysis of costimulation by B cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts demonstrates heterogeneity in responses of CD4(+) memory T cells.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, 92697, USA.


Human endothelial cells (EC) express MHC class II molecules in vivo and are likely to be involved in presentation of antigens to CD4(+) T cells. We examined, at the single-cell level, EC presentation of superantigens to resting CD4(+) memory T cells. Within 2 h of adherence to class II+ EC early T cell activation is evidenced by translocation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), surface expression of CD69, and synthesis of IFN-gamma and IL-2. Naive T cells are not activated. T cell activation is dependent on the prior induction of MHC class II molecules on EC and is blocked by antibodies to LFA-3 (CD58). Our data place EC along a spectrum of antigen-presenting ability. Activated B cells and macrophages trigger more cells to express cytokines than do EC and at lower antigen concentrations; EC are in turn, superior to fibroblasts or smooth muscle cells. Furthermore, the concept of activation thresholds for cytokine synthesis within T cells also extends to earlier activation events: NFAT translocation is relatively easy to trigger, as is CD69 expression; fewer cells can be triggered to express IFN-gamma and fewer still to express IL-2. EC may, therefore, contribute to a graded immune response by inducing qualitatively and quantitatively different responses than professional APC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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