Perforin-dependent cytotoxic activity and lymphokine secretion by CD4+ T cells are regulated by CD8+ T cells

Noelle Sevilir Williams, Victor H. Engelhard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Factors influencing the development of CD4+ T cell subpopulations with differing lymphokine profiles are well established. However, CD4+ cells can show both perforin- and Fas ligand-dependent cytotoxicity, and little is known about conditions favoring the development of these effector activities. We now report that CD8+ cells regulate the development of perforin-dependent cytotoxicity in CD4+ cells. CD4+ cells activated in either the presence or absence of CD8+ cells developed Fas ligand-dependent cytotoxic activity. However, CD4+ cells developed perforin-dependent cytotoxicity only in the absence of activated CD8+ cells. CD8+ cells also inhibited the development of IL-4-secreting CD4+ cells; however, there was no correlation between the expression of perforin-dependent cytotoxic activity and the ability to secrete IL-4, and perforin-dependent cytotoxic CD4+ cells represented only 10% of isolated clones. This suggests that the two characteristics are expressed in different CD4+ subsets and might be regulated by distinct effects of the CD8+ cells. In keeping with this, regulation of the lymphokine profile of CD4+ cells by CD8+ cells was consistent with mediation by IFN-γ, but only when delivered at high concentrations requiring close proximity of the cells. In contrast, regulation of perforin-dependent cytotoxic activity of CD4+ cells by CD8+ cells seemed inconsistent with an IFN-γ-dependent mechanism, suggesting either direct cell contact or close proximity to allow delivery of an unidentified soluble factor. The characteristics of perforin-dependent CD4+ CTL and their regulation by activated CD8+ cells suggest that they represent a previously unrecognized subpopulation that plays a defensive role when a CD8+ cell response is absent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2091-2099
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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