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J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Jun;130(6):1581-9. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.17. Epub 2010 Feb 11.

Antigen-specific CD4 cells assist CD8 T-effector cells in eliminating keratinocytes.

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Immunology and Metabolic Medicine, The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Road, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Keratinocytes expressing tumor or viral antigens can be eliminated by antigen-primed CD8 cytotoxic T cells. CD4 T-helper cells help induction of CD8 cytotoxic T cells from naive precursors and generation of CD8 T-cell memory. In this study, we show, unexpectedly, that CD4 cells are also required to assist primed CD8 effector T cells in rejection of skin expressing human growth hormone, a neo-self-antigen, in keratinocytes. The requirement for CD4 cells can be substituted by CD40 costimulation. Rejection of skin expressing ovalbumin (OVA), a non-self-antigen, by primed CD8 cytotoxic T cells can in contrast occur without help from antigen-specific CD4 T cells. However, rejection of OVA expressing keratinocytes is helped by antigen-specific CD4 T cells if only low numbers of primed or naive OVA-specific CD8 T cells are available. Effective immunotherapy directed at antigens expressed in squamous cancer may therefore be facilitated by induction of tumor antigen-specific CD4 helper T cells, as well as cytotoxic CD8 T cells.

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