Modulation of contact sensitivity responses by bacterial superantigen

J. Saloga, A. H. Enk, D. Becker, M. Mohamadzadeh, S. Spieles, I. Bellinghausen, D. Y.M. Leung, E. W. Gelfand, J. Knop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Superantigens are potent modulators of the immune system, especially T cells. Therefore, we determined the influence of superantigens on the T-cell-mediated immune response, contact sensitivity. We chose the combination of staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) as superantigen and 2,4-dinitrofluorbenzene (DNFB) as the contact sensitizer, because in BALB/c mice SEB reacts almost exclusively with Vβ8+ T cells, and these cells are capable of transferring contact sensitivity to DNFB from sensitized donors to naive syngeneic recipients. Pretreatment with a single intradermal injection of 50 ng SEB 24 h before DNFB exposure at the same site on the lower abdomen enhanced the induction of contact sensitivity: its intradermal injection permitted sensitization with non-sensitizing concentrations of DNFB as assessed by ear swelling responses after challenge with DNFB. In contrast, pretreatment with repeated intradermal injections of 50 ng SEB every other day over at least 1 week inhibited the induction of contact sensitivity following sensitization. The enhancing effect of SEB may be explained by the creation of a proinflammatory milieu in the skin after a single intradermal injection of the bacterial toxin, whereas the inhibitory effect may be due to tolerization of Vβ8+ T cells. The data indicate that products of skin-colonizing bacteria that can serve as superantigens are able to augment or inhibit the development of contact sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-224
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • 2,4-dinitrofluorbenzene
  • Contact sensitivity
  • Staphylococcal enterotoxin B
  • Superantigen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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