Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The capacity of the immune system to respond efficiently to new antigens depends upon a continuous source of naive CD4+ T cells. Such cells exit from the thymus and join the recirculated T-cell pool. Factors present at the sites of naive CD4+ T-cell circulation must be responsible for their survival, since upon removal from their host, naive CD4+ T cells die. However, such factors remain unknown. The presence of the cytokine interleukin-7 (IL-7) in secondary lymphoid organs and the continuous expression of its receptor on naive CD4+ T cells prompted us to examine the possibility that IL-7 might be a survival factor for naive CD4+ T cells. Using naive CD4+ T cells isolated from cord blood we show that IL-7, but not IL-2, can maintain naive CD4+ T-cell viability in vitro for at least 15 days. In addition, we find that IL-7 can induce modest proliferation of naive CD4+ T cells without affecting either their cell surface phenotype or their ability to respond to antigenic stimulation. We also find that after anti-CD3 stimulation, naive CD4+ T cells lose that ability to respond to IL-7. However, if cells are primed with IL-7 prior to antigenic stimulation, their proliferative responses are enhanced. Together, these data suggest a novel and important role for IL-7 in the maintenance and maturation of naive CD4+ T cells, ensuring that they can respond maximally when they first meet antigen in secondary lymphoid tissue.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Immunology

Publication Date

11/1999

Volume

98

Pages

400 - 405

Keywords

Antigen Presentation, CD3 Complex, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Division, Cell Survival, Cells, Cultured, Humans, Immunophenotyping, Infant, Newborn, Interleukin-2, Interleukin-7, Lymphoid Tissue, Time Factors