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Immunology. 1994 Feb;81(2):253-60.

CD8+ T-cell subsets defined by expression of CD45 isoforms differ in their capacity to produce IL-2, IFN-gamma and TNF-beta.

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Centre for Immunology, St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia.


Expression of different isoforms of CD45, the leucocyte common antigen (LCA), on T-cell subsets has permitted distinctions between the functional activities of subpopulations within the major CD4+ T-cell subset. With respect to cytokine production, the expression on CD4+ cells of CD45RA, a high molecular weight isoform, defines a population which produces only interleukin-2 (IL-2) and tumour necrosis factor-beta (TNF-beta) in quantity, with peak production of IL-2 occurring after 24-48 hr stimulation, while the CD4+ population bearing high levels of CD45RO, a low molecular weight isoform, can produce a wide range of cytokines within 24 hr of activation. The literature is conflicting on the capacities for cytokine production of CD8+ subsets divided on the basis of either CD45RA or CD45RO expression. The aim of this study was to attempt to clarify this area by determining the amount and kinetics of production of IL-2, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and TNF-beta in CD8+ cells separated on the basis of both CD45RA and CD45RO isoform expression. The results showed that CD8+ CD45RA- and CD8+ CD45RO+ T lymphocytes produce significantly more of all three cytokines than do CD8+ CD45RA+ or CD8+ CD45RO- T cells. The kinetics for IFN-gamma and TNF-beta production were similar for both subsets, while IL-2 production was delayed by approximately 3 hr in the CD8+ CD45RO- population as compared to the CD8+ CD45RO+ subset. It is suggested that some of the confusion over cytokine production by these CD8+ subsets may be attributable to different conditions for isolation causing pre-activation of positively selected populations. It is also suggested that while CD8+ CD45RA+ cells are shown to acquire CD45RO upon activation, as do CD4+ CD45RA+ cells, the results of the present study argue for a different relationship between CD8+ subsets separated on the basis of CD45 isoform expression than between the corresponding CD4+ subsets.

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