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Infect Immun. 1990 Dec;58(12):3856-62.

Immune suppression induced by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans: effects on immunoglobulin production by human B cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6002.


Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans produces an immunosuppressive factor (ISF) which has been shown to suppress mitogen- and antigen-induced DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis in human T lymphocytes. In this study, we examined purified A. actinomycetemcomitans ISF for its ability to alter immunoglobulin production by human B cells. The ISF caused a dose-dependent inhibition of pokeweed mitogen (PWM)-induced immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM production. Preexposure to ISF was not required to achieve maximal inhibition of immunoglobulin synthesis, as previously observed for its effect on T-cell activation. Nevertheless, the ISF appeared to act by irreversibly affecting the early stages of cell activation. While PWM-induced immunoglobulin production is under the influence of T-regulatory circuits, it appears that the ISF interacts directly with B cells. First, ISF failed to alter either the synthesis of interleukin-2 (IL-2) or the expression of IL-2 receptors on T cells. Second, experiments in which individual purified populations of cells were exposed to ISF, washed, and placed back into tissue culture indicated that when all cells (i.e., T cells, B cells, and monocytes) were exposed to ISF, significant suppression was observed. However, when only one cell population was treated with ISF, suppression of both IgG and IgM synthesis was observed only when the B-cell-enriched population was exposed to ISF. These results in conjunction with our earlier findings suggest that the ISF functions via the activation of a regulatory subpopulation of B lymphocytes, which in turn either directly or indirectly (via suppressor T cells) downregulate both B- and T-cell responsiveness. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that patients who harbor A. actinomycetemcomitans could suffer from local or systemic immune suppression. This suppression may enhance the pathogenicity of A. actinomycetemcomitans itself or that of some other opportunistic organism.

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