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Adv Immunol. 2002;80:115-81.

Cytokine memory of T helper lymphocytes.

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Deutsches Rheumaforschungszentrum, 10117 Berlin, Germany.


Memory is one of the key features of the adaptive immune system. Specific T and B lymphocytes are primed for a particular antigen and upon challenge with it will react faster than naive lymphocytes. They also memorize the expression of key effector molecules, in particular cytokines, which determine the type and scale of an immune reaction. While in primary activations differential expression of cytokine genes is dependent on antigen-receptor signaling and differentiation signals, in later activations the expression is triggered by antigen-receptor signaling and dependent on the cytokine memory. The molecular basis of the cytokine memory implies differential expression of transcription factors and epigenetic modifications of cytokine genes and gene loci. GATA-3 for Th2 and T-bet for Th1 cells expressing interleukin-4 or interferon-gamma, respectively, are prime candidates for key transcription factors of cytokine memory. The essential role of epigenetic modifications is suggested by the requirement of DNA synthesis for the establishment of a cytokine memory in Th lymphocytes. At present the molecular link between transcription factors and epigenetic modifications of cytokine genes in the establishment and maintenance of cytokine memory is not clear. The initial cytokine memory is not stable against adverse differentiation signals, while in repeatedly stimulated lymphocytes it is stabilized by a variety of mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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