A host's ability to resist certain pathogens such as Leishmania major can depend upon the phenotype of T helper (Th) subset that develops. Different murine genetic backgrounds are known to significantly alter the direction of Th subset development, although the cellular basis of this influence is poorly understood. To examine the basis of this effect we used an in vitro alpha/beta-T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic system for analysis of Th phenotype development. To control for TCR usage, we derived the DO11.10 alpha/beta-TCR transgene in several genetic backgrounds. Our findings suggest that the effects of genetic background on Th phenotype development reside within the T cell, and not the antigen-presenting cell compartment. Transgenic T cells from both the B10.D2 and BALB/c backgrounds showed development toward either the Th1 or Th2 phenotype under the strong directing influence of interleukin (IL) 12 and IL4, respectively. However, when T cells were activated in vitro under neutral conditions in which exogenous cytokines were not added, B10.D2-derived T cells acquired a significantly stronger Th1 phenotype than T cells from the BALB/c background, correspondent with in vivo Th responses to Leishmania in these strains. Importantly, these cytokine differences resulted in distinct functional properties, because B10.D2- but not BALB/c-derived T cells could induce macrophage production of nitric oxide, an important antimicrobial factor. Thus, the genetically determined default Th phenotype development observed in vitro may correspond to in vivo Th subset responses for pathogens such as Leishmania which do not initiate strong Th phenotype-directing signals.
We have previously shown that dendritic cells isolated after overnight culture, which can express B7 and are potent stimulators of naive T cell proliferation, are relatively poor at inducing the proliferation of a panel of murine T helper 1 (Th1) clones. Maximal stimulation of Th1 clones was achieved using unseparated splenic antigen presenting cells (APC). An explanation for these findings is provided in the present study where we show that FcR+ L cells transfected with B7 stimulate minimal proliferation of Th1 clones in response to anti-CD3 antibodies, in contrast to induction of significant proliferation of naive T cells. However, addition of interleukin 12 (IL-12) to cultures of Th1 cells stimulated with anti-CD3 and FcR+ B7 transfectants resulted in a very pronounced increase in proliferation and interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) production. Exogenous IL-12 did not affect the B7-induced proliferation of naive T cells. This showed that whereas costimulatory signals delivered via B7-CD28 interaction are sufficient to induce significant proliferation of naive T cells activated through occupancy of the T cell receptor, Th1 T cell clones require cooperative costimulation by B7 and IL-12. This costimulation was shown to be specific by inhibition of proliferation and IFN-gamma production using chimeric soluble cytolytic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4-human IgG1Fc (CTLA4-Ig) and anti-IL-12 antibodies. Furthermore, the significant antigen specific proliferation and IFN-gamma production by Th1 clones observed when splenocytes were used as APC was almost completely abrogated using CTLA4-Ig and anti-IL-12 antibodies. Thus two costimulatory signals, B7 and IL-12, account for the ability of splenic APC to induce maximal stimulation of Th1 clones. IL-10 downregulates the expression of IL-12 by IFN-gamma-stimulated macrophages and this may account largely for t the ability of IL-10 to inhibit APC function of splenic and macrophage APC for the induction of Th1 cell proliferation and IFN-gamma production. Indeed we show that IL-12 can overcome the inhibitory effect of IL-10 for the APC-dependent induction of proliferation and IFN-gamma production by Th1 clones. These results suggest that proliferation by terminally differentiated Th1 clones, in contrast to naive T cells, requires stimulation via membrane-bound B7 and a cytokine, IL-12. It is possible that these signals may result in the activation of unresponsive T cells during an inflammatory response. IL-10, by its role in regulating such innate inflammatory responses, may thus help to maintain these T cells in an unresponsive state.