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Blood. 2007 Apr 15;109(8):3325-32. Epub 2006 Dec 19.

Nonmalignant T cells stimulate growth of T-cell lymphoma cells in the presence of bacterial toxins.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 3c, DK 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.


Bacterial toxins including staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs). Here, we investigate SE-mediated interactions between nonmalignant T cells and malignant T-cell lines established from skin and blood of CTCL patients. The malignant CTCL cells express MHC class II molecules that are high-affinity receptors for SE. Although treatment with SE has no direct effect on the growth of the malignant CTCL cells, the SE-treated CTCL cells induce vigorous proliferation of the SE-responsive nonmalignant T cells. In turn, the nonmalignant T cells enhance proliferation of the malignant cells in an SE- and MHC class II-dependent manner. Furthermore, SE and, in addition, alloantigen presentation by malignant CTCL cells to irradiated nonmalignant CD4(+) T-cell lines also enhance proliferation of the malignant cells. The growth-promoting effect depends on direct cell-cell contact and soluble factors such as interleukin-2. In conclusion, we demonstrate that SE triggers a bidirectional cross talk between nonmalignant T cells and malignant CTCL cells that promotes growth of the malignant cells. This represents a novel mechanism by which infections with SE-producing bacteria may contribute to pathogenesis of CTCL.

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