Author(s): Zubiaga AM, Munoz E, Huber BT
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Abstract It is well established that T cell maturation and activation are negatively regulated by a mechanism termed apoptosis. We now present evidence that glucocorticoids, known to possess immunosuppressive properties, cause apoptosis in mature Th cells, similarly to what has been reported for thymocytes. Th cells treated with the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone show genome fragmentation into oligonucleosomal fragments, and proliferation of growth factor stimulated Th cells is inhibited by glucocorticoids. We show that IL-4 specifically rescues Th2 cells from dexamethasone-mediated apoptosis, whereas IL-2 and IL-1 are ineffective in these cells. However, IL-2 is the relevant rescue-factor of glucocorticoid-treated Th1 cells. The rescue induced by IL-4 and IL-2 is thought to be mediated by protein kinases (possibly protein kinase C), as evidenced by the fact that the protein kinase inhibitor H7 blocks the action of IL-4 and IL-2 in glucocorticoid-treated cells. Our in vitro data show that mature T cells can be protected by their own growth factors from the deleterious effects of the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone, and suggest that specific interactions occur between lymphokines and naturally produced glucocorticoids in vivo, which may play a role in the regulation of the immune response.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology