Cell surface characterization of T lymphocytes and allergen-specific T cell clones: Correlation of CD26 expression with T H1 subsets
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To evaluate the possibility of using surface molecules as markers for human T helper cell subsets, we studied the expression of surface molecules on T cell clones (TCCs) specific for the major birch pollen allergen, Bet v 1. No difference in the expression of the respective receptors for interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), IL-4, IL-6, or IL-10 could be detected on T(H) subsets, nor did CD25 expression (IL-2R alpha-chain) differ significantly. However, high expression of CD26 antigen (dipeptidyl peptidase IV) correlated with a T(H1)/T(H0)-like phenotype, whereas T(H2)-like clones displayed a lower expression of CD26 antigen. Comparing cytokine production and CD26 expression simultaneously, we found a correlation between the IL-4/IFN-gamma ratio and the density of CD26 per cell. We could show that the amount of IL-4 secretion, and not of IFN-gamma secretion, was responsible for this correlation. To evaluate whether CD26 antigen expression is regulated by stimuli inducing a T(H1)- or T(H2)-like phenotype, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were cultured in the presence of IL-4, IFN-gamma, and IL-12, respectively. Incubation with IL-4 led to T cells with a T(H2)-like cytokine pattern and a significantly lower expression of CD26; IFN-gamma and IL-12 led to a T(H1) shift associated with an increased expression of CD26 on CD4+ T cells. By means of intracellular cytokine detection we analyzed expression of CD26 on CD4+ PBMC stimulated to produce IFN-gamma or IL-4 on a single cell level. All activated, cytokine-producing CD4+ T cells expressed CD26, but the increase in CD26 expression was higher in cells producing IFN-gamma. These data suggest that regulation of CD26 cell surface expression correlates with the production of T(H1)-like cytokines.
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