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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2001 Nov;65(5):504-9.

African-European differences in the capacity of T-cell cytokine production.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, University of Vienna, Austria.


Regional differences in immune responsiveness have been studied by comparing the frequency of cytokine producing T cells in healthy African children and adults and their age-matched European counterparts. By use of flow cytometry for the intracellular detection of cytokines an overall expansion of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells producing the Type 1 cytokines interleukin (IL)-2 and interferon (IFN)-gamma was observed in adults when compared with children, giving credit to the cumulative effect of contacts with environmental antigens. The CD4+ cells expressing the Type 2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-13, however, increased only in Africans, probably reflecting continuously present challenges with antigens that preferentially drive Type 2 responses. A striking increased frequency of both Type 1 and Type 2 cytokines producing T cells was found in African adults when compared with their European counterparts. The quantitative and qualitative regional differences in immune reactivity are likely to be of significance for all immune intervention strategies, especially for the design of vaccines.

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