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J Immunol. 2008 Nov 15;181(10):6738-46.

The common gamma-chain cytokines IL-2, IL-7, IL-15, and IL-21 induce the expression of programmed death-1 and its ligands.

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Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The programmed death (PD)-1 molecule and its ligands (PD-L1 and PD-L2), negative regulatory members of the B7 family, play an important role in peripheral tolerance. Previous studies have demonstrated that PD-1 is up-regulated on T cells following TCR-mediated activation; however, little is known regarding PD-1 and Ag-independent, cytokine-induced T cell activation. The common gamma-chain (gamma c) cytokines IL-2, IL-7, IL-15, and IL-21, which play an important role in peripheral T cell expansion and survival, were found to up-regulate PD-1 and, with the exception of IL-21, PD-L1 on purified T cells in vitro. This effect was most prominent on memory T cells. Furthermore, these cytokines induced, indirectly, the expression of PD-L1 and PD-L2 on monocytes/macrophages in PBMC. The in vivo correlate of these observations was confirmed on PBMC isolated from HIV-infected individuals receiving IL-2 immunotherapy. Exposure of gamma c cytokine pretreated T cells to PD-1 ligand-IgG had no effect on STAT5 activation, T cell proliferation, or survival driven by gamma c cytokines. However, PD-1 ligand-IgG dramatically inhibited anti-CD3/CD28-driven proliferation and Lck activation. Furthermore, following restimulation with anti-CD3/CD28, cytokine secretion by both gamma c cytokine and anti-CD3/CD28 pretreated T cells was suppressed. These data suggest that gamma c cytokine-induced PD-1 does not interfere with cytokine-driven peripheral T cell expansion/survival, but may act to suppress certain effector functions of cytokine-stimulated cells upon TCR engagement, thereby minimizing immune-mediated damage to the host.

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