CD4+CD28(null) T cells are oligoclonal lymphocytes rarely found in healthy individuals younger than 40 yr, but are found in high frequencies in elderly individuals and in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. Contrary to paradigm, they are functionally active and persist over many years. Such clonogenic potential and longevity suggest altered responses to apoptosis-inducing signals. In this study, we show that CD4+CD28(null) T cells are protected from undergoing activation-induced cell death. Whereas. CD28+ T cells underwent Fas-mediated apoptosis upon cross-linking of CD3, CD28(null) T cells were highly resistant. CD28(null) T cells were found to progress through the cell cycle, and cells at all stages of the cell cycle were resistant to apoptosis, unlike their CD28+ counterparts. Neither the activation-induced up-regulation of the IL-2R α-chain (CD25) nor the addition of exogenous IL-2 renders them susceptible to Fas-mediated apoptosis. These properties of CD28(null) T cells were related to high levels of Fas-associated death domain-like IL-1-converting enzyme-like inhibitory protein, an inhibitor of Fas signaling that is normally degraded in T cells following activation in the presence of IL-2. Consistent with previous data showing protection of CD28(null) cells from spontaneous cell death, the present studies unequivocally show dysregulation of apoptotic pathways in CD4+CD28(null) T cells that favor their clonal outgrowth and maintenance in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy