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J Immunol. 2006 Nov 15;177(10):6695-704.

Glutamate released by dendritic cells as a novel modulator of T cell activation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biology and Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica August Pi i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Adaptive immune responses begin after productive immunosynaptic contacts formation established in secondary lymphoid organs by dendritic cells (DC) presenting the Ag to T lymphocytes. Despite its resemblance to the neurosynapse, the participation of soluble small nonpeptidic mediators in the intercellular cross-talk taking place during T cell-DC interactions remains poorly studied. In this study, we show that human DC undergoing maturation and in contact with T cells release significant amounts of glutamate, which is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in mammalians. The release of glutamate is nonvesicular and mediated by the DC-expressed Xc- cystine/glutamate antiporter. DC-derived glutamate stimulating the constitutively expressed metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 impairs T cell activation. However, after productive Ag presentation, metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 is expressed in T cells to mediate enhanced T cell proliferation and secretion of Th1 and proinflammatory cytokines. These data suggest that, during T cell-DC interaction, glutamate is a novel and highly effective regulator in the initiation of T cell-mediated immune responses.

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