The induction of IgE synthesis by IL-4 requires T cells and monocytes, as well as T cell- and monocyte-derived cytokines. Optimal cytokine combinations, however, fail to induce highly purified B cells to secrete IgE, indicating that additional signals are required. We show herein that the induction of human IgE synthesis by rIL-4 requires cognate interaction between the T cell receptor/CD3 complex on T cells and MHC class II antigens on B cells: mAbs directed against these molecules completely blocked IL-4-dependent IgE induction. mAbs against cell adhesion molecules (CD2, CD4, LFA-1) also inhibited IgE synthesis induced by IL-4, confirming that cell-cell contact is necessary for IgE induction. The requirement for cognate T/B cell interaction was further shown by comparing the IgE-inducing ability of two human IL-4-producing alloreactive T cell clones: F6, which recognizes MHC class II antigens on both B cells and monocytes, and A1, which recognizes an HLA-DP-associated epitope expressed on monocytes, but not on B cells. When incubated with B cells and monocytes from a normal donor bearing the appropriate alloantigen, clone F6, but not clone A1, induced vigorous IgE synthesis, although both clones proliferated and secreted IL-4. Taken together, our results suggest that at least two, possibly synergizing, signals are required for the T cell-dependent induction of IgE synthesis by B cells: one signal is delivered by cognate T/B cell interaction, the other by T cell-derived IL-4.

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