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Keywords:

  • CD40;
  • CD80;
  • CD86;
  • Dendritic cell;
  • Langerhans cell

Abstract

The CD40: CD40 ligand (CD40L) interaction provides T lymphocyte-mediated help for B lymphocyte and monocyte function but has also been shown to serve as a co-stimulus for T lymphocyte activation. In this report, we studied the regulation of CD40 expression and its functional relevance for the human dendritic cell (DC) stimulation of T lymphocytes. Only a small subpopulation of directly isolated blood DC expressed CD40. However, CD40 was rapidly up-regulated by culture, and its expression was further enhanced by interleukin (IL)-1α, IL-1β, IL-3, tumor necrosis factor-α and granulocyte/macrophage-colony-stimulating factor. Expression of CD40L on DC was not detected. The proliferation of T lymphocytes in an allogeneic mixed leukocyte reaction, stimulated by blood DC or epidermal Langerhans cells, was significantly reduced in the presence of the CD40 immunoglobulin (CD40Ig) fusion protein or CD40L monoclonal antibodies. Cross-linking of CD40 on directly isolated DC with mouse CD40L trimer (mCD40LT) markedly augmented CD80 and CD86 up-regulation. Nevertheless, the same cross-linking mCD40LT inhibited DC stimulated T lymphocyte proliferation. When CD40Ig was added simultaneously with CTLA-4Ig, only minimal and variable additional inhibition of DC-stimulated allogeneic T lymphocyte proliferation and IL-2 secretion was observed, compared to each fusion protein alone. These results suggest that both CD80/CD86-dependent and -independent components of DC-T lymphocyte CD40: CD40L co-stimulation exist and further emphasize that the majority of blood DC have to differentiate or be activated to express co-stimulatory molecules.