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J Exp Med. 1997 Jun 16;185(12):2089-94.

T cell stimulation in vivo by lipopolysaccharide (LPS).

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Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from gram-negative bacteria causes polyclonal activation of B cells and stimulation of macrophages and other APC. We show here that, under in vivo conditions, LPS also induces strong stimulation of T cells. As manifested by CD69 upregulation, LPS injection stimulates both CD4 and CD8(+) T cells, and, at high doses, stimulates naive (CD44(lo)) cells as well as memory (CD44(hi)) cells. However, in terms of cell division, the response of T cells after LPS injection is limited to the CD44(hi) subset of CD8(+) cells. In contrast with B cells, proliferative responses of CD44(hi) CD8(+) cells require only very low doses of LPS (10 ng). Based on studies with LPS-nonresponder and gene-knockout mice, LPS-induced proliferation of CD44(hi) CD8(+) cells appears to operate via an indirect pathway involving LPS stimulation of APC and release of type I (alpha, beta) interferon (IFN-I). Similar selective stimulation of CD44(hi) CD8(+) cells occurs in viral infections and after injection of IFN-I, implying a common mechanism. Hence, intermittent exposure to pathogens (gram-negative bacteria and viruses) could contribute to the high background proliferation of memory-phenotype CD8(+) cells found in normal animals.

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