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PLoS One. 2008 Jun 11;3(6):e2404. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002404.

An IFN-gamma-IL-18 signaling loop accelerates memory CD8+ T cell proliferation.

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Laboratory of Cellular Immunology and Physiology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, United States of America.


Rapid proliferation is one of the important features of memory CD8(+) T cells, ensuring rapid clearance of reinfection. Although several cytokines such as IL-15 and IL-7 regulate relatively slow homeostatic proliferation of memory T cells during the maintenance phase, it is unknown how memory T cells can proliferate more quickly than naïve T cells upon antigen stimulation. To examine antigen-specific CD8(+) T cell proliferation in recall responses in vivo, we targeted a model antigen, ovalbumin(OVA), to DEC-205(+) dendritic cells (DCs) with a CD40 maturation stimulus. This led to the induction of functional memory CD8(+) T cells, which showed rapid proliferation and multiple cytokine production (IFN-gamma, IL-2, TNF-alpha) during the secondary challenge to DC-targeted antigen. Upon antigen-presentation, IL-18, an IFN-gamma-inducing factor, accumulated at the DC:T cell synapse. Surprisingly, IFN-gamma receptors were required to augment IL-18 production from DCs. Mice genetically deficient for IL-18 or IFN-gamma-receptor 1 also showed delayed expansion of memory CD8(+) T cells in vivo. These results indicate that a positive regulatory loop involving IFN-gamma and IL-18 signaling contributes to the accelerated memory CD8(+) T cell proliferation during a recall response to antigen presented by DCs.

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