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Immunol Rev. 1991 Oct;123:85-114.

Heterogeneity in lymphokine profiles of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and clones activated in vivo and in vitro.

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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia.


Analysis of lymphokine mRNA expression and protein secretion by about 100 short-term alloreactive T-cell clones revealed marked heterogeneity in the combinations of lymphokines synthesized. This finding argues against a simple model in which T cells express either an unrestricted (Th0) or a restricted (Th1 or Th2) lymphokine profile. Lymphokine titers appeared to be normally distributed, with the percentage of positive clones for any one product determined by the threshold of detection. Accordingly, the observation that CD4+ clones on average produced higher titers of most lymphokines than CD8+ clones indicated that apparent differences between the lymphokine profiles of these two subsets were quantitative rather than qualitative. Patterns of lymphokine gene expression detected in whole tissues or by analysis of single cells and clones were markedly influenced by in vivo priming. Relative levels of expression of IL-4, IFN-gamma and GM-CSF in lymphoid tissues differed in mice undergoing a GvHR or following contact sensitization with OX or immunization with KLH in adjuvant. Consistent with the finding that IL-4 was the major lymphokine mRNA detected in lymph nodes of KLH-primed mice, most short-term KLH-specific clones derived from such mice also expressed IL-4. A similar approach to the detection of lymphokine-secreting T-cell precursors activated late in L. major infection showed that most clones from the L. major-resistant strain, C57BL/6, secreted IFN-gamma without IL-4 whereas most clones from the susceptible strain, BALB/c, secreted IL-4 without IFN-gamma. Differences were also noted in anti-CD3-induced IL-3 production at the single-cell level between CD8+ cells activated in the GvHR or against a tumor allograft. Con A-induced, filler cell-dependent cloning of CD4+ T cells from unprimed mice gave rise both to IFN-gamma-producing and to IL-4-producing clones. A requirement for an undefined, filler cell-dependent signal for development of IL-4-secreting clones was suggested by the finding that clones of normal CD4+ and CD8+ T cells activated in an anti-CD3-induced, filler cell-free system exclusively produced IFN-gamma and IL-3 without detectable IL-4 or IL-6. With a view to developing a single-cell approach to the analysis of lymphokine profiles of in vivo-activated T cells, sensitive assays for IL-3 and other lymphokines were used to measure secreting cells activated in the GvHR or against a tumor allograft.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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