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J Immunol. 1998 Sep 1;161(5):2158-67.

Human endothelial cells effectively costimulate cytokine production by, but not differentiation of, naive CD4+ T cells.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


We compared costimulatory signals provided by human endothelial cells (ECs) to those provided by conventional bone marrow-derived APCs, i.e., peripheral blood-adherent mononuclear cells (PBAMCs), by measuring their effects on cytokine production by naive or memory CD4+ T cells stimulated by PHA. In these assays, ECs effectively costimulate secretion of IL-2, IFN-gamma, and IL-4 from both naive and memory CD4+ T cells, quantified by ELISA or intracellular cytokine staining. ECs, which lack B7 molecules, use predominantly leukocyte-function associated Ag 3 (LFA-3) to provide costimulation. ECs are comparable to or better than PBAMCs, which use both the LFA-3 and B7 molecules, at costimulating IL-2 and IL-4 production. ECs are less effective than PBAMCs at costimulating IFN-gamma production by naive T cells. ECs do not secrete IL-12, and addition of exogenous IL-12 enables ECs to costimulate IFN-gamma at a level comparable to that observed with PBAMCs. ECs do not promote differentiation of naive T cells to Th1-like cells, whereas PBAMCs do. Again, addition of exogenous IL-12 enables ECs to do so. Transfection of ECs to express B7-1 or B7-2 is less effective than IL-12 supplementation for restoring these responses. These experiments suggest that a deficiency in costimulation due to lack of B7 molecule expression does not fully explain the inability of ECs to activate resting naive CD4+ T cells.

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