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Eur J Immunol. 2008 Apr;38(4):1024-32. doi: 10.1002/eji.200737800.

CD137 ligand reverse signaling has multiple functions in human dendritic cells during an adaptive immune response.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Georg August University Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Eur J Immunol. 2008 Jun;38(6):1767.


T cell activation via dendritic cells (DC) is an important step in the adaptive immune response, which requires DC maturation, migration to lymph nodes and presentation of antigen to T cells. CD137 receptor expressed on activated T cells is a potent costimulatory molecule. Here, we investigated the functions of CD137 ligand (CD137L) in human monocyte-derived DC during an immune response. Cross-linking of CD137L on DC leads to cell maturation in an autocrine fashion, mostly via release of TNF-alpha. Reverse signaling of CD137L also mediates migration of DC via up-regulation of the CCR7 chemokine receptor, demonstrated by an in vivo MIP-3beta-dependent SCID mouse migration model. Finally, CD137L-activated DC induce differentiation of human T cells into potent Th1 effectors. Cocultivation of autologous T cells and CD137L-activated DC in an antigen-specific reaction leads to T cell proliferation and the release of IL-12p70 and IFN-gamma. These findings deliver new insights into the multiple effects of reverse signaling of CD137L in human DC during the initiation of an adaptive immune response, including the key features of DC maturation, migration and, ultimately, antigen-specific T cell differentiation.

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