High cell density provides potent survival signals for resting T-cells.
Pilling D., Akbar AN., Shamsadeen N., Scheel-Toellner D., Buckley C., Salmon M.
Activated T-cells are susceptible to apoptosis through two particularly important pathways: ligation of CD95 (Fas/Apo-1) or cytokine deprivation. Resting T-cells have until recently been considered to be relatively resistant to apoptosis. In this report we show that resting T-cells die rapidly by apoptosis when deprived of serum or cell contact. Primed CD45RO+ cells were more susceptible than naive CD45RA+ cells, consistent with their relative expression of Bcl-2. CD4+, CD8+ and gammadelta T-cells were equally prone to apoptosis under all studied conditions. A linear relationship between cell survival and serum concentration was observed for cells cultured between 0.5-2x10(6)/ml. T-cells cultured at low density died even in high concentrations of serum. However, resting T-cells cultured at high cell density (4x10(6)/ml) survived for extended periods in the absence of serum or other survival factors. This effect was mediated by the production of soluble factors and independent of integrin mediated signals. These results suggest that T-cells at sites of high density such as the lymph node paracortex are independent of external survival factors, while those trafficking through the peripheral circulation are highly dependent on serum derived factors for survival.