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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 1-6

Rapid Development of Th2 Activity During T Cell Priming

University of Birmingham, Medical Research Council Centre for Immune Regulation, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The paradigm of T helper-1 (Th-1) and Th-2 cells developing from non-committed naïve precursors is firmly established. Th1 cells are characterized by IFN production and, in mice, the selective switching to IgG2a. Conversely IL-4 production and selective switching to IgG1 and IgE characterize Th2 cells. Analysis of Th2 induction in vitro indicates that this polarization develops gradually in T cells activated by anti-CD3 in the presence of IL-4; conversely anti-CD3 and IFN induce Th1 cells. In this report, we explore evidence that indicates that the T helper cell polarization in vivo cannot solely be explained by the cytokine environment. This is provided by studying the early acquisition of Th1 and Th2 activities during responses to a mixture of Th1 and Th2-inducing antigens. It is shown that these divergent forms of T cell help can rapidly develop in cells within a single lymph node. It is argued that early polarization to show Th-1 or Th-2 behavior can be induced by signals delivered during cognate interaction between virgin T cells and dendritic cells, in the absence of type 1 or type 2 cytokines. This contrasts with the critical role of the cytokines in reinforcing the Th-phenotype and selectively expanding T helper clones.