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Immunology. 1997 Feb;90(2):189-97.

Kinetics of cellular infiltration and cytokine production during the efferent phase of a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Oklahoma Health Science Centre, Oklahoma City 73190, USA.


Cell-mediated immunity is a primary host resistance mechanism against many infectious organisms and is responsible for leucocyte recruitment to the infection site. Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactions are in vivo correlates of cell-mediated immunity and have long been used to assess the level of cell-mediated immune (CMI) responsiveness to specific antigens. It has been difficult to study the kinetics of cellular influx and cytokine composition at the site of an on-going CMI reaction. Consequently, knowledge of the sequential events occurring during the efferent phase of a CMI response is incomplete. Here we report on the use of a gelatin sponge model for evaluating the progression of events during the effector phase of a DTH reaction to antigens of the mycotic organism Cryptococcus neoformans. Previously, we have shown that 24 hr after antigen injection into sponges in infected or immune mice, the leucocyte types infiltrating the sponges are consistent with a classical murine DTH reaction. Through kinetic studies, we show here that neutrophils are the first leucocytes to appear in DTH-reactive sponges, followed by increases in lymphocyte and then monocyte numbers. Tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and IL-5 were elevated in DTH-reactive sponges compared with control sponges, and each cytokine had a relatively unique temporal profile. IL-4 was not detectable in the sponges. Together our data indicate that the expression of a CMI response comprises a well-regulated sequential influx of leucocytes that contribute to the lymphokine composition of the reaction.

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