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Hum Gene Ther. 2001 Jun 10;12(9):1091-102.

Modulation of cellular responses by plasmid CD40L: CD40L plasmid vectors enhance antigen-specific helper T cell type 1 CD4+ T cell-mediated protective immunity against herpes simplex virus type 2 in vivo.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Engineering gene therapy vectors to modulate the immune response is an important goal. In this regard, costimulation of T cells is a critical determinant in immune activation. The costimulatory molecule CD40, expressed on antigen-presenting cells, is thought to interact with CD40 ligand (CD40L) expressed on activated CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cells to further drive interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) expression and antigen-specific T cell expansion necessary for both class II and class I responses. To compare the specific roles of these two costimulatory molecules in immune induction in a herpes simplex virus (HSV) model, we constructed plasmid DNAs expressing CD40 and CD40L, coimmunized these molecules with a gD plasmid vaccine, and then analyzed immune modulatory effects as well as protection against lethal HSV-2 challenge. We observed that gD-specific IgG production was unaffected by these molecules. However, a higher production of IgG2a isotype was induced by CD40L coinjection, suggesting that CD40L drives immune responses towards a helper T cell type 1 (Th1) phenotype. CD40L also enhanced Th cell proliferative responses and production of Th1-type cytokines (IL-2 and IFN-gamma) and beta-chemokines (RANTES and MIP-1alpha) from splenocytes. In contrast, CD40 showed slightly increasing effects on T cell proliferation responses and cytokine and chemokine production. When animals were challenged with a lethal dose of HSV-2, CD40L-coimmunized animals exhibited a significantly enhanced survival rate, as compared with CD40 coinjection or gD DNA vaccine alone. This enhanced protection appears to be mediated by Th1-type CD4(+) T cells, as determined by in vitro and in vivo T cell subset deletion. CD40L also promoted migration of CD4(+) T cells into the muscle sites. These studies demonstrate that CD40L can play an important role in protective antigen-specific immunity in a gene-based model system through increased expansion of the CD4(+) Th1 T cell subset in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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