Send to

Choose Destination
Clin Immunol. 2005 Dec;117(3):221-30. Epub 2005 Nov 14.

Commensal microbiota alter the abundance and TCR responsiveness of splenic naïve CD4+ T lymphocytes.

Author information

Molecular Biology Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, CHS 13-222, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The epidemiologic risk of certain systemic immunologic diseases is affected by commensal or environmental microbiota, but the cellular basis of the "hygiene hypothesis" is poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate that composition of the commensal microbiota affects the functional state of the peripheral naïve (CD62L(hi)CD44(lo)) T lymphocyte populations. Restricted flora (RF) mice (stably colonized with excess nonpathogenic Clostridium sp., and changes in other bacterial and fungal taxa) were distinguished after the neonatal period by a progressive deficiency in absolute numbers of naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes. SPF and RF mice had comparable levels of memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. This phenotype was attributable to the altered levels of certain commensals and their products, since germ-free mice had normal absolute numbers of splenic CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and their respective naïve and memory subsets. The naïve CD4+ T cell subset was functionally distinguished in RF mice versus SPF mice by TCR hyperresponsiveness, pro-inflammatory cytokine production, and increased activation-induced cell death. Biochemically, these traits were associated with higher basal phosphorylation of the TCR signaling proteins ZAP-70, Lck, and LAT. These findings indicate that enteric microbial products, through unknown cellular circuitry, influence steps in CD4 T cell differentiation moderating basal TCR signaling and immune responsiveness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center