The poststimulation program of CD4 versus CD8 T cells (death versus activation-induced nonresponsiveness)

Ee Loon Tham, Matthew F Mescher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Both CD8 and CD4 T cells undergo autocrine IL-2-induced proliferation and clonal expansion following stimulation with Ag and costimulation. The CD8 T cell response is transient because the cells rapidly become activation-induced nonresponsive (AINR) and exhibit split anergy. In these cells, the capacity for IL-2 production is lost, but TCR-mediated IFN-γ production and cytotoxicity are maintained. At this point, the CTL become dependent on IL-2 provided by CD4 Th cells for continued expansion. If IL-2 is available to support expansion for a brief period, AINR is reversed and the cells regain the ability to produce IL-2. In this study, we show that CD4 T cells do not become AINR, but instead are rendered susceptible to Fas-mediated activation-induced cell death following stimulation through TCR and CD28. Using z-VAD-fmk or anti-Fas ligand mAb to inhibit cell death, we demonstrate that previously activated CD4 T cells retain the ability to up-regulate c-Jun N-terminal kinase activity and IL-2 mRNA levels upon TCR engagement and no longer require costimulation. This rewiring of signaling pathways is similar to that seen following reversal of AINR in CD8 T cells. Thus, CD8 and CD4 T cells appear to use distinct mechanisms, AINR and activation-induced cell death, respectively, to limit excessive clonal expansion following a productive response, while permitting important effector functions to be expressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1822-1828
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2002


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