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J Immunol. 1998 Oct 15;161(8):3844-52.

High antigen density and IL-2 are required for generation of CD4 effectors secreting Th1 rather than Th0 cytokines.

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  • 1Department of Biology and University of California, San Diego Cancer Center, La Jolla 92093, USA.


We reevaluated the effects of Ag dose on the polarization of CD4 effectors generated in vitro from naive pigeon cytochrome c-specific TCR transgenic T cells under conditions in which we could eliminate contaminating non-naive CD4 cells and the effects of heterogeneous Ag-presenting populations. When the possibility of contaminating non-naive T cells was reduced by using T cells from transgenic mice on a RAG-2(-/-) background, Ag dose did not have a significant effect in Th1 and Th2 polarization unless exogenous IL-2 was initially added to cultures. Effectors generated were uniformly Th0 but produced only IL-2 in substantial amounts. When exogenous IL-2 was added to priming cultures, T cells secreting a Th0 phenotype (large quantities of IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, and IFN-gamma) developed, except at very high doses of Ag, where there was a striking reduction in IL-4 and IL-5 secretion. Our results imply that Ag dose does not have a direct effect on Th1/Th2 polarization, except under conditions that include a high level of TCR ligation and in the presence of high levels of IL-2, where production of Th2 cytokines may be down-regulated by a mechanism that is not yet clear.

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