To elucidate whether the fraction of CD28- T cells within the CD4+ T-cell population is a major source of Th1-like and proinflammatory cytokine production driving Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) granuloma formation, we analyzed the phenotype and functional characteristics of peripheral blood CD4+CD28- T cells and of T cells in granulomatous lesions of 12 patients with active WG. Surface markers and intracytoplasmic cytokine and perforin expression were assessed by flow cytometry. Cytokine secretion was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Immunohistological studies demonstrated interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α cytokine positivity attributable to CD4+CD28- T cells in granulomatous lesions. Peripheral blood CD4+CD28- T cells expressed CD57, also found on natural killer cells, and intracytoplasmic perforin. They were generally CD25 (interleukin-2 receptor)-negative. CD18 (adhesion molecule β2-integrin) was strongly up-regulated on CD4+CD28- T cells, whereas only a minority of CD4+CD28+ T cells expressed CD18. CD4+CD28- T cells appeared as a major source of interferon-γ and tumor necrosis factor-α. In contrast, CD4+CD28+ T cells were able to produce and secrete a wider variety of cytokines including interleukin-2. One-quarter of CD4+CD28+ T cells expressed the activation marker CD25, but they lacked perforin. Thus, CD4+CD28+ T cells appeared more differentiated than CD4+CD28+ T cells. They displayed Th1-like cytokine production and features suggestive of the capability of CD4+ T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity. CD4+CD28- T cells may be recruited into granulomatous lesions from the blood via CD18 interaction, and may subsequently promote monocyte accumulation and granuloma formation through their cytokine secretion in WG.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)