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Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Nov;118(2):228-34.

In vitro activated CD4+ T cells from interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)-deficient mice induce intestinal inflammation in immunodeficient hosts.

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Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Department of Medical Anatomy, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


To investigate the role of IFN-gamma in the immunopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice were transplanted with in vitro activated CD4+ T cells from either wild-type (WT) or IFN-gamma-deficient (IFN-gammaKO) BALB/c mice. In vitro, the two types of T cells displayed comparable proliferation rates and production of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), IL-2, IL-4 and IL-10 after concanavalin A (Con A) stimulation. When transplanted into SCID mice, WT CD4+ blasts induced a lethal IBD, whereas IFN-gammaKO blasts induced a less severe intestinal inflammation with moderate weight loss. Intracellular cytokine staining of lamina propria lymphocytes (LPL) revealed comparable fractions of CD4+ T cells positive for TNF-alpha, IL-2 and IL-10 in the two groups of transplanted SCID mice, whereas a two-to-three-fold increase in the fraction of IL-4-positive cells was found in IFN-gammaKO-transplanted SCID mice. Flow cytometric analyses showed strong up-regulation of MHC class II expression of colonic epithelial cells of WT-CD4+ T cell-transplanted compared with IFN-gammaKO-transplanted SCID mice. A significantly higher fraction of CD4+ LPL were found to enter the cell cycle, i.e. to incorporate bromo-deoxy-uridine, and to undergo apoptosis in vivo in WT-transplanted compared with IFN-gammaKO-transplanted SCID mice. These data point towards an important role for IFN-gamma in the development of IBD in SCID mice. The inflammation might be initiated and subsequently enhanced by the ability of IFN-gamma to induce de novo MHC class II expression in the colonic epithelium, a change which could lead to increased antigen processing and production of local proinflammatory cytokines, CD4+ T cell turnover and thereby to exaggeration of disease.

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