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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Apr 30;99(9):6198-203.

ICOS-ligand, expressed on human endothelial cells, costimulates Th1 and Th2 cytokine secretion by memory CD4+ T cells.

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Molecular Immunology, Robert Koch-Institute, Nordufer 20, D-13353 Berlin, Germany.


Endothelial cells (EC) play a central role in inflammatory immune responses and efficiently induce effector functions in T cells, despite lacking the classical costimulatory ligands CD80 and CD86. By using the mAb HIL-131 we now demonstrate that human inducible costimulator-ligand (ICOS-L), a molecule related to CD80/CD86, is constitutively expressed on human EC in vivo. In vitro, ICOS-L expression was strongly enhanced on human umbilical vein EC and microvascular EC by the inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha and IL-1beta, and to a lower extent by stimulation of EC by CD40 or lipopolysaccharide. Coculture of MHC class II(+) EC with resting memory CD4(+) T cells in the presence of superantigen led to a marked up-regulation of ICOS on T cells and to the production of Th1 (IFN-gamma, IL-2) and Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-10, IL-13). When these cocultures were performed in the presence of the inhibitory mAb HIL-131, secretion of all cytokines was reduced by about 50-80%, indicating that ICOS-L is a major costimulator in EC-mediated T cell activation. Taken together, our data suggest an important physiological role of ICOS-L in the reactivation of effector/memory T cells on the endothelium controlling the entry of immune cells into inflamed tissue.

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