The interaction between activated vascular endothelium and T cells has been shown to play an important role in the recruitment and activation of T cells at sites of inflammation. Here we report the expression of CD40 by vascular endothelial cells and its regulation by inflammatory agents. Using the soluble recombinant CD40 ligand, sgp39, we show that the interaction of CD40 with its ligand can lead to endothelial cell activation, which in turn leads to leukocyte adhesion. This adhesion is partly mediated by the expression of E-selectin. In addition to E-selectin expression, sgp39 induces the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 and augments the tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule 1. The effects of sgp39 on endothelial cells can be blocked with anti-gp39 monoclonal antibody (mAb), anti-CD40 mAb, or soluble CD40. Staining of tissues from healthy human skin using anti-CD40 mAb showed very weak expression of CD40 by the endothelium, while skin involved in inflammatory disease showed marked upregulation of CD40 expression. These studies suggest that interactions between cell surface proteins expressed by activated T cells with their receptors on vascular endothelium can stimulate the vasculature at sites of inflammation and may be involved in normal inflammatory responses and in inflammatory disease.

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