Interleukin-4-mediated downregulation of cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity is associated with reduced proliferation of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells

Michael Rolph, Ian Ramshaw

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13 Citations (Scopus)


During virus infection, exogenous IL-4 strongly downregulates expression of antiviral cytokines and cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses. In this study, we have employed a T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic system to more closely investigate the effect of IL-4 on CTL activity. This system involves mice transgenic for an H2-Kb restricted TCR recognising an ovalbumin (OVA)-specific peptide (OT-I mice), and recombinant vaccinia viruses expressing the gene for OVA (VV-OVA), or OVA together with IL-4 (VV-OVA-IL-4). Spleen cells from OT-I mice were adoptively transferred to irradiated C57BL/6 mice infected with VV-OVA or VV-OVA-IL-4. Five days following transfer, markedly stronger CTL activity was detected in VV-OVA- than in VV-OVA-IL-4-infected recipients. The reduction in CTL activity was associated with a reduction in the number of OVA-specific CD8+ T cells. Proliferation of cells from VV-OVA-IL-4-infected recipients was dramatically reduced, and this is a likely explanation for the IL-4-mediated reduction in the total number of OVA-specific cells and the reduced cytotoxic activity. On a per cell basis, the production of IFNgamma and cytotoxic activity of OVA-specific CD8+ cells was not influenced by IL-4. Taken together, our results indicate that the reduction in CTL activity by exogenous IL-4 is due to a reduced number of antigen-specific effectors, and does not involve a downregulation of effector function of these cells
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-932
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobes and Infection: a journal on infectious agents and host defenses
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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