A role for inducible costimulator protein in the CD28- independent mechanism of resistance to Toxoplasma gondii

Eric N Villegas, Linda A Lieberman, Nicola Mason, Sarah L Blass, Valerie P Zediak, Robert Peach, Tom Horan, Steve Yoshinaga, Christopher A Hunter
Journal of Immunology 2002 July 15, 169 (2): 937-43
Long-term resistance to Toxoplasma gondii is dependent on the development of parasite-specific T cells that produce IFN-gamma. CD28 is a costimulatory molecule important for optimal activation of T cells, but CD28(-/-) mice are resistant to T. gondii, demonstrating that CD28-independent mechanisms regulate T cell responses during toxoplasmosis. The identification of the B7-related protein 1/inducible costimulator protein (ICOS) pathway and its ability to regulate the production of IFN-gamma suggested that this pathway may be involved in the CD28-independent activation of T cells required for resistance to T. gondii. In support of this hypothesis, infection of wild-type or CD28(-/-) mice with T. gondii resulted in the increased expression of ICOS by activated CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. In addition, both costimulatory pathways contributed to the in vitro production of IFN-gamma by parasite-specific T cells and when both pathways were blocked, there was an additive effect that resulted in almost complete inhibition of IFN-gamma production. Although in vivo blockade of the ICOS costimulatory pathway did not result in the early mortality of wild-type mice infected with T. gondii, it did lead to increased susceptibility of CD28(-/-) mice to T. gondi associated with reduced serum levels of IFN-gamma, increased parasite burden, and increased mortality compared with the control group. Together, these results identify a critical role for ICOS in the protective Th1-type response required for resistance to T. gondii and suggest that ICOS and CD28 are parallel costimulatory pathways, either of which is sufficient to mediate resistance to this intracellular pathogen.

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