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Eur J Immunol. 2000 Nov;30(11):3228-35.

Human T cells elicit IFN-alpha secretion from dendritic cells following cell to cell interactions.

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Department of Medicine, ICSM, St. Mary's Hospital, London, GB.


Major insights into events that control Th1/Th2 differentiation have been acquired recently, and highlight the role of Type I IFN in Th1 generation, by inducing up-regulation of the IL-12 receptor beta(2) subunit. IFN-alpha induces responsiveness to IL-12, and here we have investigated the source and the circumstances under which IFN-alpha is produced, in the absence of viral infections. Human dendritic cells (DC) were co-cultured with autologous T cells activated by cross-linking the CD3 complex. DC were also cultured with L cells expressing human CD40 ligand (CD40L). Our results show that large amounts (>200 IU IFN-alpha from 2.5x10(4) cells) of IFN-alpha are produced by DC following interaction with stimulated T cells. Similar effects were observed when DC were cultured with CD40L-expressing transfectants, although the amount of IFN-alpha produced was reduced, suggesting that the CD40-CD40L interaction may be important. These results show that stimulated T cells can solicit the signals from DC that allow their polarization towards a Th1 phenotype. Type I DC produce Type I IFN not only following viral infection but also during an immunological interaction and this may be the basic mechanism that assists in the development of a Th1 response.

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