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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 19;8(12):e82508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082508. eCollection 2013.

In vivo identification and characterization of CD4⁺ cytotoxic T cells induced by virulent Brucella abortus infection.

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  • 1Aix-Marseille University, CIML, 13288, Marseille, France ; CNRS, UMR 7280, 13288, Marseille, France ; INSERM, U631, 13288, Marseille, France.


CD4(+) T cells display a variety of helper functions necessary for an efficient adaptive immune response against bacterial invaders. This work reports the in vivo identification and characterization of murine cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells (CD4(+) CTL) during Brucella abortus infection. These CD4(+) CTLs express granzyme B and exhibit immunophenotypic features consistent with fully differentiated T cells. They express CD25, CD44, CD62L ,CD43 molecules at their surface and produce IFN-γ. Moreover, these cells express neither the co-stimulatory molecule CD27 nor the memory T cell marker CD127. We show here that CD4(+) CTLs are capable of cytolytic action against Brucella-infected antigen presenting cells (APC) but not against Mycobacterium-infected APC. Cytotoxic CD4(+) T cell population appears at early stages of the infection concomitantly with high levels of IFN-γ and granzyme B expression. CD4(+) CTLs represent a so far uncharacterized immune cell sub-type triggered by early immune responses upon Brucella abortus infection.

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