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Immunobiology. 1994 Feb;190(1-2):116-26.

Activation of human T cells by the superantigen Staphylococcus enterotoxin B: analysis on a cellular level.

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Children's University Hospital, Department of Oncology/Hematology, Tübingen, Germany.


Superantigens interact with and activate a sizeable fraction of T cells characterized by expression of specific V beta gene segments of their antigen receptor. The massive activation of T cells in an organism is considered responsible for clinical symptoms associated with superantigen-producing bacteria. Here we studied the in vitro activation of human T cells by the superantigen Staphylococcus Enterotoxin B on a cell by cell basis. Superantigen-reactive T cells were stained with a V beta 12-specific monoclonal antibody and analyzed in a cytofluorograph. Blast formation of SEB-reactive T cells occurs within 12 h and reaches a plateau after 24 h. Double-staining of V beta 12+ T cells with antibodies against different T cell activation or adhesion surface molecules revealed a time-dependent differential upregulation for CD2, CD11 = LFA-1, CD25, CD28, CD69, and HLA-DR. The expression of CD3, CD4 and CD5 was not influenced by the superantigen. The rapid phenotypic changes of superantigen reactive T cells in terms of marker expression and cell size could provide early tools in diagnosing diseases caused by superantigens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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