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J Immunol. 2010 Dec 1;185(11):6795-801. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001676. Epub 2010 Oct 22.

Antigen-specific Th9 cells exhibit uniqueness in their kinetics of cytokine production and short retention at the inflammatory site.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1857, USA.


Recently reported lines of Th9 cells, producing IL-9 and IL-10, were generated by polarization with IL-4 and TGF-β and activation with Abs against CD3 and CD28. In this paper, we analyzed features of Th9 lines similarly polarized but activated by the "natural mode" (i.e., exposure of CD4 cells to their target Ag, hen egg lysozyme [HEL] and APCs). Main observations are the following: 1) both IL-9 and IL-10 were expressed by the line cells, but with strikingly different kinetics, with IL-9 being produced rapidly, reaching a peak on day 3 in culture and declining sharply thereafter, whereas IL-10 production increased gradually, resembling IL-4 and IL-17 production by their corresponding lineage cells; 2) reactivation of Th9, following expansion, triggered faster and higher production of both IL-9 and IL-10; 3) incubating Th9 cells in polarizing media specific for other phenotypes stimulated moderate levels of phenotype switching to Th1 or Th17 but a massive switching to Th2; 4) Th9 cells induced moderate inflammation in HEL-expressing recipient eyes but only when producing high levels of IL-9; and 5) IL-9-producing donor cells were detected in the blood of Th9 recipients but not in their inflamed eyes, suggesting that similar to findings in culture, exposure to HEL in these eyes arrested the IL-9 production in Th9 cells. Collectively, these data provide new information concerning Th9 cells and reveal their uniqueness, in particular with regard to the unusual production kinetics of IL-9 and the short retention of these cells in affected target tissues.

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