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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Sep;100(3):373-8.

Increased levels of IL-4 in CD8+ T cells in atopic asthma.

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University Department of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK.



In view of reports that CD8+ T cells may produce T(H2)-type cytokines and our own finding that levels of intracellular IL-4 are higher in CD8+ than CD4+ T cells in healthy nonatopic subjects, we have hypothesized that the capacity of CD8+ T cells to produce IL-4 may be increased in atopic asthma, a disease characterized by high production of T(H2) cytokines.


Levels of IL-4 and interferon-gamma were measured by ELISA in cell lysates and in 20- and 48-hour cultures of concanavalin A-stimulated purified peripheral blood CD8+ T cells in seven patients with mild atopic asthma and seven healthy nonatopic subjects.


Resting CD8+ T cells in patients with asthma contained significantly more IL-4 than those of healthy nonatopic subjects (median, 26 pg/10(6) cells; range, 17 to 84 pg/10(6) cells vs 16 pg/10(6) cells; 10 to 28 pg/10(6) cells), with no difference in intracellular interferon-gamma levels. In the healthy control subjects, but not in the patients with asthma, levels of intracellular IL-4 correlated negatively with levels of interferon-gamma in resting CD8+ T cells (r[s] = -0.9411, p = 0.005). Stimulation with concanavalin A produced a consistent and significant increase in secretion of interferon-gamma, but not IL-4, with no difference between the two groups of subjects.


The results of this study suggest that CD8+ T cells from patients with asthma may be an important source of the T(H2)-type cytokine IL-4. This capacity appears to be acquired in vivo, possibly by conditioning by IL-4 produced in the inflamed airways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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