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J Immunol. 2003 Mar 1;170(5):2399-408.

Memory CD8+ T cells provide an early source of IFN-gamma.

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Department of Pathology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


During the non-Ag-specific early phase of infection, IFN-gamma is believed to be primarily provided by NK and NKT cells in response to pathogen-derived inflammatory mediators. To test whether other cell types were involved in early IFN-gamma release, IFN-gamma-producing cells were visualized in spleens and lymph nodes of LPS-injected mice. In addition to NK and NKT cells, IFN-gamma was also detected in a significant fraction of CD8(+) T cells. CD8(+) T cells represented the second major population of IFN-gamma-producing cells in the spleen ( approximately 30%) and the majority of IFN-gamma(+) cells in the lymph nodes ( approximately 70%). LPS-induced IFN-gamma production by CD8(+) T cells was MHC class I independent and was restricted to CD44(high) (memory phenotype) cells. Experiments performed with C3H/HeJ (LPS-nonresponder) mice suggested that CD8(+) T cells responded to LPS indirectly through macrophage/dendritic cell-derived IFN-alpha/beta, IL-12, and IL-18. IFN-gamma was also detected in memory CD8(+) T cells from mice injected with type I IFN or with poly(I:C), a synthetic dsRNA that mimics early activation by RNA viruses. Taken together, these results suggest that in response to bacterial and viral products, memory T cells may contribute to innate immunity by providing an early non-Ag-specific source of IFN-gamma.

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