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Contrib Microbiol. 2003;10:164-82.

CD1 antigen presentation and infectious disease.

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Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., USA.


Taken together, the data generated thus far strongly suggest that CD1 plays a role in the immune response against various infections (table 1). For obvious reasons, the data gathered thus far using model infection systems have focused primarily on the mouse and therefore only examine the role of CD1d. This leaves an important gap in our understanding of the CD1 antigen presentation pathway given the potential role of CD1a, CD1b and CD1c for contributing to antimicrobial immunity. The functional dichotomy between group 1 and group 2 CD1 isoforms obviously requires further analysis. However, we propose that the group 1 CD1 (CD1a, CD1b, CD1c) antigen presentation pathway is closer to the traditional adaptive immune response mechanisms with the capacity to present unique foreign antigens to specific T cells. This broadens the universe antigens that T cells can use to target pathogens and provides important antimicrobial effector mechanisms that may be critical for combating some types of infections. Lipid antigens may also provide a more effective means of targeting intracellular pathogens by T cells since CD1 is able to sample almost all of the intracellular reservoirs that are exploited by this class of pathogen and may provide an important component of the cytotoxic T cell response [80]. On the other hand, the group 2 CD1 protein (CD1d) may be more intermediate in terms of lying functionally between the innate and adaptive immune systems. The activation of CD1d-restricted T cells may, therefore, help bridge the temporal gap between the onset of innate immunity and the purely adaptive responses typified by the MHC-restricted T cells. Hence, the CD1d-restricted [table: see text] T cells are primed for rapid high-level cytokine release. In addition, the interaction of CD1d-restricted T cells with CD1d on DCs can trigger the release of IL-4 and GM-CSF to promote maturation of tissue-resident DC at the site of infection. The maturation of tissue DC would lead to migration of the activated DC to regional lymph nodes and initiation of MHC-restricted T cell responses. Subsequent IL-12 production by the DC in response to CD1d-mediated T cell stimulation could then drive IFN-gamma production by CD1d-restricted T cells and influence the polarization of the T cell response to infection. In addition, early bursts of IFN-gamma by CD1d-restricted T cells could also upregulate antimicrobial activity in macrophages and activate other important effector cells such as NK cells prior to MHC-restricted T cell responses. In the constant struggle between the microbial pathogen and its host, the evolutionary balance almost always favors the microbe. The rapid rate of evolution and adaptation of the microbe accounts for most of this advantage. Hence, it is not surprising that the host immune system has evolved a complex set of pathways, in addition to the MHC, that are able to recognize and target the unique molecular signatures of infectious microorganisms. The lipid antigens presented by CD1 add to this array and thus provide a further layer of immune defense to the host for combating pathogens.

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