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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Apr;123(4):813-23.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.01.055.

T-box 21 transcription factor is responsible for distorted T(H)2 differentiation in human peripheral CD4+ T cells.

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Department of Allergy and Immunology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, Tokyo, Japan.



Regardless of T(H)1/T(H)2 theory, CD4(+) T cells of patients with allergic asthma, a typical T(H)2 disease, and those of healthy subjects expressed equivalent levels of IFN-gamma, even though T(H)2 cytokines were significantly upregulated in asthmatic patients.


The mechanisms underlying distorted T(H)2 cell polarization in human T cells were elucidated.


Cytokine-producing activity and the expression of T(H)1/T(H)2-specific transcription factors in naïve, T(H)1/T(H)2, or both CD4(+) T cells derived from human peripheral and cord blood were comparatively analyzed. The mechanisms of the differential expression of T-box 21 transcription factor (T-bet) in the cells were assessed by determining the chromatin accessibility at the TBX21 gene. The functional roles of T-bet and other transcription factors in human T(H)1/T(H)2 differentiation were further investigated.


T(H)2 cells derived from naive CD4(+) T cells in peripheral blood but not in cord blood produced IFN-gamma. T-bet was expressed in peripheral, but not cord blood, resting naive T cells. Consistently, the accessibility at the proximal TBX21 gene promoter in peripheral naive T cells was higher than that in cord blood naive T cells. IFN-gamma-producing activity was induced in T(H)2-differentiated cord blood T cells by means of ectopic expression of T-bet. In addition, a reduction of T-bet in peripheral T cells suppressed IFN-gamma production. T-bet not only upregulated IFN-gamma but also downregulated IL-4 and IL-13 gene transcription, independently of the modification of T(H)1/T(H)2 balance.


The expression of T-bet at a naive stage is crucial for the development of IFN-gamma-producing T cells in human peripheral blood, even in T(H)2-related diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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