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Research Article

Purified protein derivative of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and excretory-secretory antigen(s) of Toxocara canis expand in vitro human T cells with stable and opposite (type 1 T helper or type 2 T helper) profile of cytokine production.

G F Del Prete, M De Carli, C Mastromauro, R Biagiotti, D Macchia, P Falagiani, M Ricci and S Romagnani

Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergology, University of Florence, Italy.

Published July 1991

A large series of T cell clones (TCC) specific for purified protein derivative (PPD) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (total 60) or Toxocara canis excretory/secretory (TES) antigen (total 69) were established from the peripheral blood of two healthy individuals and analyzed for their profile of cytokine production in response to stimulation with either the specific antigen or the polyclonal activator phorbol myristate acetate plus anti-CD3 antibody. Under both these experimental conditions, the great majority of PPD-specific TCC secreted IL-2 and IFN-gamma but not, or limited amounts of, IL-4 and IL-5. In contrast, most TES-specific TCC secreted IL-4 and IL-5 but not, or limited amounts of, IL-2 and IFN-gamma. PPD-specific TCC that failed to secrete IL-4 and IL-5, and TES-specific TCC that failed to secrete IL-2 and IFN-gamma, were found to lack transcripts for IL-4 and IL-5, or for IL-2 and IFN-gamma, respectively. During the course of the study, over a 6-mo period, the functional phenotype of both TES- and PPD-specific TCC was repeatedly assessed and remained constant. These data demonstrate that T cells with stable Th1 or Th2 functional pattern exist not only in mice but also in humans and suggest that in the course of natural immunization certain infectious agents preferentially expand T cell subsets with stable and definite profile of cytokine production.

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