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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Human B cell differentiation induced by microbial superantigens: unselected peripheral blood lymphocytes secrete polyclonal immunoglobulin in response to Mycoplasma arthritidis mitogen.

Microbial superantigens (SA) activate a significant portion of the T cell repertoire based on their dual avidity for MHC class II antigens and T cell receptor (TCR) epitopes common to products of one or several TCR beta chain variable gene families. While SA that induce massive T cell proliferation and cytokine secretion have been implicated in clinical syndromes characterized by shock and generalized immunosuppression, SA activation of a more restricted T cell response may also have significant, perhaps immunostimulatory, effects on the immune system. To investigate this issue, we measured 3H-thymidine incorporation and polyclonal IgM and IgG secretion by normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) cultured with a panel of microbial SA, including the Staphylococcus aureus-derived SA, SEA, SEB, SEC-1, SEC-2, SEC-3, SEE, TSST-1, and the Mycoplasma arthritidis-derived SA, MAM. The S. aureus-derived SA induce vigorous proliferation by PBMC, while optimal MAM-induced proliferation is significantly lower in magnitude. In all 12 subjects tested, mitogenic concentrations of MAM reproducibly stimulate unselected PBMC to secrete polyclonal IgM and IgG. In contrast, the S. aureus-derived SA induce Ig production only in cultures containing isolated B cell populations and either very low numbers of untreated autologous T cells, larger numbers of X-irradiated autologous T cells, or very low concentrations of the SA. No difference in the activation of helper ( CD4) versus suppressor/cytotoxic (CD8) T cells by MAM and the S. aureus-derived SA was noted. Taken together, these data suggest that MAM's capacity to induce B cell differentiation correlates with its induction of a relatively weak proliferative response by unselected human T cells. MAM-like SA, when encountered in vivo, may result in a significant perturbation of the human immune system and potentially contribute to clinical syndromes characterized by immunostimulation and hypergammaglobulinemia.[1]


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