The vast majority of gastric T cells are polarized to produce T helper 1 type cytokines upon antigenic stimulation despite the absence of Helicobacter pylori infection
Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with chronic infiltration by various cell types, including T cells, whose cytokine production may regulate the inflammatory reaction as well as local immune response to the bacterium. We prospectively analyzed the constituents of the cellular infiltrates and the cytokines produced by T cells in antral biopsies obtained from 73 subjects with and without H. pylori infection, before and after eradication therapy, and compared them with a histological grade of gastritis. We found that T cells predominated in cell number, followed by granulocytes/monocytes and plasma cells in both H. pylori-infected and H. pylori-uninfected subjects. Despite the absence of H. pylori infection, more than 70% of gastric CD4-positive T cells obtained from uninfected tissue produced interferon-γ (IFN-γ) in the cytosol. Upon receptor cross-linking of a CD3 and a CD28 molecule, T cells in both infected and uninfected tissue continuously secreted a far greater amount of IFN-γ than those in peripheral blood mononuclear cell controls for a period of cell culture, whereas the increase in interleukin-4 (IL-4) was very small, and no increase in IL-2 secretion was seen. In H. pylori-infected patients, IFN-γ secretion was correlated with the grade of mononuclear cell infiltration and decreased to an uninfected control level after eradication therapy. We did not see the effect of eradication on IL-4 secretion. Anti-H. pylori antibody of the IgG2 subclass was remarkably increased in H. pylori-infected subjects. These results together suggest that gastric T cells are already differentiated to produce a large amount of IFN-γ by a mechanism unrelated to H. pylori infection. H. pylori infection appeared to activate T cells to secrete even more IFN-γ, which may contribute to maintaining a perpetual inflammation in H. pylori-infected stomach.
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