Author(s): Swain SL, Weinberg AD, English M, Huston G
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Abstract Our studies show that the presence of IL-4 during the response of naive Th cells causes precursors to develop into a population comprised largely of "Th2-like" effectors that secrete IL-4 and IL-5, but little IL-2 or IFN-gamma. We find that the levels of IL-4 and IL-2 determine both the level of effectors developed in response to mitogen or Ag and the patterns of lymphokines they secrete when restimulated. IL-2 is required for optimum generation of effectors, and increasing levels of IL-2, augments the expansion of effectors secreting both IL-4/IL-5 and IFN-gamma. In contrast, IL-4 is required for the development of IL-4/IL-5 secreting effectors but suppresses the development of IL-2 and at higher doses IFN-gamma-secreting effectors detected after 4 days. Also dramatic are the effects of the presence or absence of IL-4 evaluated after an additional 1 to 2 wk. When cultures with or without initial IL-4 are cultured in IL-2 alone from days 4 to 11, they retain their distinct patterns of lymphokine production. Those cells that developed in cultures without IL-4 progressively secrete more IL-2 and can be maintained and expanded in IL-2. They continue to produce IFN-gamma, though the levels decrease somewhat with time, but they do not acquire the ability to produce IL-4 or IL-5. These cells thus increasingly resemble Th1 cell lines. In contrast, those cells in cultures initially exposed to IL-4, generate effectors which secrete high levels of IL-4/IL-5 (plus variable levels of IFN-gamma) at days 4 to 5, but the populations of cells developed, are not maintained well on IL-2 alone. Those cells that do survive continue to secrete IL-4 and IL-5 but not IL-2. In addition, IFN-gamma production, if present, falls off with time. Thus the cells in these cultures take on an increasingly Th2-like phenotype. It appears that the effects of low levels of IL-4 in suppressing IL-2 production by day 4 effectors appear to be transient whereas the higher levels appear to drive the development along a distinct pathway which is irreversible. These studies support the concept that different subsets of helper cells, which correspond roughly to Th1 and Th2 subsets, can develop rapidly in short term culture with respectively low vs high levels of IL-4. They support the concept that such distinct phenotypes arise from alternate pathways of differentiation that can be expected to reflect pathways available for helper T cell differentiation in the animal.
This article was published in J Immunol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology