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Cell Immunol. 2009;259(2):141-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cellimm.2009.06.009. Epub 2009 Jun 23.

In vitro activation and differentiation of naïve CD4+ and CD8+ T cells into HCV core- and NS3-specific armed effector cells: a new role for CD4+ T cells.

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Department of Surgery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta. T6G 2S2, Canada.


Viral clearance in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been correlated with strong, multi-specific and sustained T cell responses. The number of functionally active effector T cells determines the outcome of infection. Only a small number of antigen-specific naïve T cells are originally present. Upon infection, they undergo activation, clonal expansion and differentiation to become effector cells. In this study, we determined the ability of dendritic cells (DCs) to prime T cells in vitro to become effector cells upon stimulation with various TLR ligands or IFNalpha. T cell priming and activation was determined by proliferation and production of effector molecules, IFN-gamma and Granzyme B (GrB). HCV Core-specific T cells showed significant increase in proliferation, and the number of HCV Core-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells producing IFN-gamma and GrB was higher than control or NS3-specific T cells. These in vitro-primed CD4+ and CD8+ T cells exhibit the phenotype of just-activated and/or armed effector lymphocytes confirming the transition of naïve T cells to effector cells. This is the first study demonstrating the activation of GrB+CD4+ T cells against antigen(s) derived from HCV. Our study suggests a novel role of CD4+ T cells in immunity against HCV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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