Analysis of T-cell activation after bronchial allergen challenge in patients with atopic asthma

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Background: T helper cells are a heterogeneous group of cells that have phenotypic and functional differences. Activated T helper cells have been found in peripheral blood after allergen challenge of subjects with atopic asthma, but the phenotypes of specific T helper subpopulation involved remains to be identified. Objective: To characterize the T cell activation markers that may be regulated by allergens, we analyzed peripheral blood lymphocytes obtained before and after allergen challenge from subjects with atopic asthma. Methods: We analyzed the distribution of the cell surface activation markers, interleukin 2 receptor (IL-2R) and major histocompatibility complex class H antigens (MHC II) among T helper subpopulations classified as naive (CD45RA) or memory (CD45RO) phenotypes. Nine adult subjects with atopic asthma underwent bronchoprovacative allergen inhalation and isocapnic cold air hyperventilation (ISH) challenge followed by serial spirometry. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated at baseline and 2 and 24 hours after challenge. Four-color flow cytometry was used to analyze the expression and distribution in vivo of IL-2R and MHC II activation markers on naive and memory T cell subsets after challenge. Results: At 2 and 24 hours after allergen challenge, there was a significant increase in the CD45RO+IL-2R+ T helper cells compared with baseline (mean ± SE, baseline, 12.5% ± 1% versus 2 hours, 18.1% ± 1% and 24 hours, 17.8% ± 2%, p < 0.025). MHC II expression was not significantly increased after challenge on naive and memory T helper cells and coexpression of IL-2R and MHC II was only found in a small proportion of CD45RO+ T helper cells (2.7% ± 1%). No changes of IL-2R or MHC II expression on T helper subsets were observed after ISH challenge in the same patients. We also found that 31% to 46% of T helper cells coexpress CD45RA and CD45RO simultaneously, and upregulation of IL-2-R and MHC II expression occurs only on those T helper cells that express CD45RO. Conclusions: We have found that T helper cells express both CD45RA and CD45RO isoforms, which suggests the existence of a transitional phenotype among naive and memory T helper cells in peripheral blood. In subjects with atopic asthma, our in vivo analysis characterizes two populations of activated memory T helper cells based on the expression of IL- 2R or MHC II surface molecules after allergen challenge.




Lara-Marquez, M. L., Deykin, A., Krinzman, S., Listman, J., Israel, E., He, H., … Finn, P. W. (1998). Analysis of T-cell activation after bronchial allergen challenge in patients with atopic asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 101(5), 699–708.

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