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J Immunol. 2000 Mar 15;164(6):2955-63.

CD28, Ox-40, LFA-1, and CD4 modulation of Th1/Th2 differentiation is directly dependent on the dose of antigen.

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Division of Immunochemistry, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.


The involvement of specific accessory/costimulatory molecules in differentiation to Th1 and Th2 phenotypes is controversial. Reports suggest that molecules such as CD4, CD28, and Ox-40 support Th2 differentiation and suppress Th1 differentiation, whereas others such as LFA-1 support Th1 responses and suppress Th2 responses. We have previously defined an in vitro model of differentiation that is absolutely dependent on the initial dose and affinity of peptide presented to a naive CD4 cell. The dose and affinity of Ag regulate autocrine production of IL-2, IL-4, and IFN-gamma, which in turn govern differentiation to Th1 and Th2 phenotypes. We have used this system to confirm that CD4, CD28, and Ox-40 interactions can promote, and LFA-1 interactions can suppress, differentiation of cells secreting the Th2 cytokines IL-5 and IL-13. However, for CD4 and LFA-1, this is only seen over a certain range of peptide doses. In addition, CD28 and Ox-40 interactions also promote Th1 differentiation. In general, agonist Abs to accessory molecules shifted the response curves for IFN-gamma, IL-5, and IL-13 to lower doses, whereas antagonist reagents resulted in similar curves shifted toward the higher doses. We conclude that ligation of cell surface accessory receptors enables low doses of Ag to promote responses normally induced only by higher doses. Individual receptors do not intrinsically regulate one cytokine phenotype or another, suggesting that differentiation is controlled by the level of expression of multiple accessory molecule pairs integrated with the number and affinity of peptide/MHC complexes.

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