• animal models/studies – mice/rats;
  • CD4 T cells (T helper; Th0, Th1, Th2, Th3, Th17);
  • inflammation/inflammatory mediators including eicosanoids;
  • T cells;
  • thymus


Proinflammatory cytokines are essential mediators of the immunopathology associated with microbial sepsis. The fungal cell wall component zymosan and bacterial DNA are well-studied experimental tools for investigating these processes, simulating the presence of fungal or bacterial infection. Cells of the immune periphery, but also immune cells in the thymus, are affected essentially by the presence of microbes or their immune stimuli in sepsis. For this reason, we investigated the cytokine pattern present in the spleen (containing mature immune cells) and the thymus (containing immature immune cells) upon exposure to zymosan and Escherichia coli DNA. To study the role of T cell activation status, we investigated ex-vivo cultures with and without αCD3 stimulation for changes in their cytokine secretion pattern as measured by cytokine enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) and flow cytometry analysis. We found that both substances strongly co-stimulate αCD3-induced interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-6 secretion in the thymus and in the spleen, but stimulate IL-17 production only moderately. Moreover, zymosan increases PLP peptide (PLPp)-specific IFN-γ and IL-6 production in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced in Swiss Jim Lambert (SJL)/J mice, confirming that T cell activation status is crucial for the cytokines secreted by an immune cell population encountering a microbial pathogen or immunostimulating parts of it.