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Acta Derm Venereol. 1993 Apr;73(2):94-6.

Streptococcal and staphylococcal superantigens (ETA, SEB): presentation by human epidermal cells and induction of autologous T cell proliferation in vitro.

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Department of Dermatology, J. W. Goethe-University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.


Streptococcal and staphylococcal toxins are responsible for skin-related clinical conditions, e.g. scarlet fever and toxic shock syndrome. Skin involvement may result from a hypersensitivity reaction to these toxins; however, their precise mode of action has still to be elucidated. The aim of the present study was to investigate the capacity of human epidermal cells to present streptococcal erythrogenic toxin A (ETA) or staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) to autologous T-lymphocytes in vitro. We found a significant T-lymphocyte proliferation response to minute amounts of ETA (p < 0.01) and SEB (p < 0.02) when co-cultured with freshly isolated autologous human epidermal cells. We suggest that human skin may serve not only as an entry for microbial toxin-producing strains but also as an important target for streptococcal and staphylococcal toxin-binding and subsequent T cell proliferation.

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