Induction of polyclonal CD8+ T cell activation and effector function by Pertussis toxin

Cathi Murphey, Steve Chang, Xue Zhang, Bernard Arulanandam, Thomas G. Forsthuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Pertussis toxin (PTX) has pronounced adjuvant activity and strongly enhances innate and adaptive immune responses, including increased antibody production and Th1/Th2 cytokine production. Adjuvant effects of PTX on Th1 and Th2 cells are primarily mediated via CD80/86 costimulation via enhanced expression of these molecules by APCs. However, it has remained unresolved whether PTX modulates the expression of costimulatory and inhibitory molecules on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. To address this question, we determined the expression kinetics of CD28, CTLA-4, and CD40L on spleen CD4+ and CD8+ T cells after incubation with PTX. The results show that PTX upregulated the expression of CD28 by CD8+ T cells, but not by CD4+ T cells. In contrast, the expression of CTLA-4 and CD40L was not substantially altered on CD4+ or CD8+ T cells. CD28 upregulation by CD8+ T cells was paralleled by upregulation of CD69 and the induction of IFN-γ, Granzyme B (GrB), and IL-17. CD8+ T cell activation and cytokine production could be substantially blocked with anti-CD80 and CD86 antibodies, consistent with CD28 mediated signaling. Treatment of highly purified CD8+ T cells with PTX resulted in upregulation of CD28 and CD69, and production of IFN-γ. Incubation with CD28 mAb further enhanced this effect, suggesting that PTX has direct effects on CD8+ T cells which are enhanced by CD80/86-mediated costimulation provided by APCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalCellular Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • Costimulatory molecules
  • Cytokines
  • Pertussis toxin
  • T cell expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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