The costimulatory signal provided to T cells through CTLA-4-ligand interactions is required for T cell activation resulting in increased interleukin 2 (IL-2) production in vitro, but its role in the production of IL-4 and other cytokines is unclear and few in vivo studies have been performed to confirm results of in vitro experiments. We have examined the in vivo effects of blocking CTLA-4 ligands on the T helper cell 2 (Th2)-associated mucosal immune response that follows oral infection of mice with the nematode parasite, Heligmosomoides polygyrus. CTLA-4Ig administration inhibited H. polygyrus-induced increases in mesenteric lymph node (MLN) B cell major histocompatibility complex class II expression and size and T cell-derived IL-4 gene expression. In addition, CTLA-4 immunoglobulin (Ig) partially blocked increased IL-3, IL-5, and IL-9 cytokine gene expression in Peyer's patch (PP) and MLN 8 d after primary inoculation of mice with the parasite. Increases in the number of IL-4- but not IL-5-secreting cells were also inhibited by CTLA-4Ig. H. polygyrus-induced elevations in serum IgE levels but not blood eosinophils, were markedly inhibited by CTLA-4Ig. These results suggest that stimulation of CD28 and/or CTLA-4 is required for T cell priming leading to IL-4 cytokine production, B cell activation, and IgE secretion during a Th2-like, mucosal immune response to a nematode parasite.

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