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Eur J Immunol. 2004 Jun;34(6):1617-26.

Synthesis of several chemokines but few cytokines by primed uncommitted precursor CD4 T cells suggests that these cells recruit other immune cells without exerting direct effector functions.

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David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Antigen-stimulated naive CD4 T cells may differentiate into effector T cells such as Th1 and Th2 cells, or may remain as proliferating but uncommitted, primed, precursor cells (Thpp cells) that can subsequently differentiate into Th1 or Th2 cells in appropriate cytokine environments. To examine potential Thpp effector functions, we compared the genes expressed by mouse Thpp, naive, Th1 and Th2 cells, using Affymetrix GeneChip and RNase Protection assays. Similar to naive CD4 T cells, Thpp cells expressed IL-2 but not the cytokines characteristic of differentiated Th1 or Th2 cells, such as IFN-gamma, IL-4, or IL-5. However, Thpp, Th1 and Th2 cells, but not naive cells, expressed several CC chemokines including CCL1/TCA3, CCL5/RANTES, CCL3/MIP-1 alpha, CCL4/MIP-1 beta, and CCL9/MIP-1 gamma. Secretion of the corresponding proteins was confirmed by ELISA and Elispot. Consistent with this chemokine expression, supernatants of activated Thpp, Th1 and Th2 cells but not naive CD4T cells induced pertussis toxin-sensitive chemotaxis of B and T cells. Supernatants of Thpp cells did not bias differentiation of naive CD4 T cells towards either Th1 or Th2 cells. The secretion of several chemokines, but few cytokines, by primed uncommitted Thpp cells suggests that their activation during an immune response may recruit effector cells without directly polarizing effector functions.

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