The role of CD40 in peripheral T cell tolerance and immunity
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CD40 and CD40 ligand (CD40L) have been implicated as important molecules for the transformation of nonactivated antigen-presenting cells (APC) into cells that are potent inducers of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) immunity. The onset of a successful immune response lies within the control of the CD4+ T helper cells which, after specific antigen recognition, can up-regulate CD40L and subsequently activate APC through CD40 signaling. Triggering of CD40 with antibodies in vivo can replace the need for CD40L-expressing CD4+ T helper cells for cross-priming of CTL. Blocking of CD40–CD40L interactions can also have profound effects on the generation of T cell immunity. Interestingly, differential involvement of CD40/CD40L in immune responses can be observed between various immunological sites in the body. In most sites of the periphery interruption of CD40-CD40L interactions can lead to the induction of T cell tolerance whereas in mucosal tissues this interruption can lead to abrogation of T cell tolerance. Furthermore, in vivo CD40 activation can convert specific T cell tolerance following peptide vaccination into efficient T cell priming. Thus intervention of CD40–CD40L interactions can result in enhancement or down-modulation of T cell reactivity and therefore modulation of these interactions may form the foundation of new treatment modalities directed against malignancies, allergies, organ rejections and autoimmunity.
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