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Cell Immunol. 1998 Jan 10;183(1):70-9.

The density of the class II MHC T cell receptor ligand influences IFN-gamma/IL-4 ratios in immune responses in vivo.

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


Activation of CD4+ T cells depends on T cell receptor recognition of MHC class II/peptide and on costimulation provided by CD28/B7. It has been shown that different levels of costimulation can influence T helper cell differentiation into Th1 versus Th2 phenotypes. Similar arguments have been made for different levels of peptide/MHC density on antigen-presenting cells, but to date supportive evidence has only come from in vitro studies. Here, using transgenic mice with reduced MHC class II expression on both B cells and dendritic cells, we demonstrate that T helper cell differentiation in vivo is also influenced by the density of expression of MHC class II. Although priming and expansion of antigen-specific T cells were normal in these mice, T cell responses were dominated by the Th1-associated cytokine IFN-gamma, with reduced levels of the Th2 cytokine IL-4 compared to controls. These results provide direct evidence that the efficiency of antigen presentation in vivo can determine effector cell phenotype.

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