[Source: PLoS ONE, full text: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Increase in IFNγ−IL-2+ Cells in Recent Human CD4 T Cell Responses to 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza
by Jason M. Weaver, Hongmei Yang, David Roumanes, F. Eun-Hyung Lee, Hulin Wu, John J. Treanor, Tim R. Mosmann
Human CD4 T cell recall responses to influenza virus are strongly biased towards Type 1 cytokines, producing IFNγ, IL-2 and TNFα. We have now examined the effector phenotypes of CD4 T cells in more detail, particularly focusing on differences between recent versus long-term, multiply-boosted responses. Peptides spanning the proteome of temporally distinct influenza viruses were distributed into pools enriched for cross-reactivity to different influenza strains, and used to stimulate antigen-specific CD4 T cells representing recent or long-term memory. In the general population, peptides unique to the long-circulating influenza A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1) induced Th1-like responses biased toward the expression of IFNγ+TNFα+ CD4 T cells. In contrast, peptide pools enriched for non-cross-reactive peptides of the pandemic influenza A/California/04/09 (H1N1) induced more IFNγ−IL-2+TNFα+ T cells, similar to the IFNγ−IL-2+ non-polarized, primed precursor T cells (Thpp) that are a predominant response to protein vaccination. These results were confirmed in a second study that compared samples taken before the 2009 pandemic to samples taken one month after PCR-confirmed A/California/04/09 infection. There were striking increases in influenza-specific TNFα+, IFNγ+, and IL-2+ cells in the post-infection samples. Importantly, peptides enriched for non-cross-reactive A/California/04/09 specificities induced a higher proportion of Thpp-like IFNγ−IL-2+TNFα+ CD4 T cells than peptide pools cross-reactive with previous influenza strains, which induced more Th1 (IFNγ+TNFα+) responses. These IFNγ−IL-2+TNFα+ CD4 T cells may be an important target population for vaccination regimens, as these cells are induced upon infection, may have high proliferative potential, and may play a role in providing future effector cells during subsequent infections.