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Keywords:

  • B cells;
  • Cell differentiation;
  • Costimulation;
  • Memory;
  • T cells

Abstract

We have addressed the role of the inducible costimulator (ICOS) in the development of T cell help for B cells and in the generation, survival and reactivation of memory CD4 T cells and B cells. We find that while T cell help for all antibody isotypes (including IgG2c) is impaired in ICOS knockout (ICOS-KO) mice, the IFN-γ response is little affected, indicating a defect in helper function that is unrelated to cytokine production. In addition, the ICOS-negative T cells do not accumulate in B cell follicles. Secondary (memory), but not primary, clonal proliferation of antigen-specific B cells is impaired in ICOS-KO mice, as is the generation of secondary antibody-secreting cells. Analysis of endogenous CD4 memory cells in ICOS-KO mice, using MHC class II tetramers, reveals normal primary clonal expansion, formation of memory clones and long-term (10 wk) survival of memory cells, but defective expansion upon reactivation in vivo. The data point to a role of ICOS in supporting secondary, memory and effector T cell responses, possibly by influencing cell survival. The data also highlight differences in ICOS dependency of endogenous T cell proliferation in vivo compared to that of adoptively transferred TCR-transgenic T cells.