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Nat Immunol. 2012 Oct;13(10):981-90. doi: 10.1038/ni.2390. Epub 2012 Jul 29.

OX40 signaling favors the induction of T(H)9 cells and airway inflammation.

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Transplant Research Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


The mechanisms that regulate the T(H)9 subset of helper T cells and diseases mediated by T(H)9 cells remain poorly defined. Here we found that the costimulatory receptor OX40 was a powerful inducer of T(H)9 cells in vitro and T(H)9 cell-dependent airway inflammation in vivo. In polarizing conditions based on transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), ligation of OX40 inhibited the production of induced regulatory T cells and the T(H)17 subset of helper T cells and diverted CD4(+)Foxp3(-) T cells to a T(H)9 phenotype. Mechanistically, OX40 activated the ubiquitin ligase TRAF6, which triggered induction of the kinase NIK in CD4(+) T cells and the noncanonical transcription factor NF-κB pathway; this subsequently led to the generation of T(H)9 cells. Thus, our study identifies a previously unknown mechanism for the induction of T(H)9 cells and may have important clinical implications in allergic inflammation.

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