Enteric bacterial antigens activate CD4(+) T cells from scid mice with inflammatory bowel disease

Eur J Immunol. 2001 Jan;31(1):23-31. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200101)31:1<23::aid-immu23>3.0.co;2-2.


Scid mice transplanted with CD4(+) T cells from congenic donor mice develop a chronic and lethal inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) 2-3 months post-transplantation. In the present study we have investigated the response of CD4(+) T cells from scid mice with colitis against fecal extracts. Our results show that in contrast to CD4(+) T cells from normal BALB/c mice, CD4(+) T cells from scid mice with colitis proliferate strongly in response to antigen-presenting cells (APC) pulsed with fecal extracts. The IBD-associated T cells did not respond to either extracts from food antigens or fecal extracts from germ-free mice, which indicates that they recognize bacterial antigens in the fecal extracts. CD4(+) T cells isolated from the colonic lamina propria of scid mice 3 weeks post transplantation also responded vigorously to fecal extracts, demonstrating that reactive CD4(+) T cells are present in the gut mucosa of transplanted scid mice prior to clinical manifestations of IBD. CD4(+) T cells activated by fecal extracts produced high amounts of IL-2 and IFN-gamma, intermediate amounts of IL-4 and low amounts of IL-10, consistent with a Th1 profile. The proliferative reactivity towards fecal extracts was restricted by MHC class II molecules and dependent on antigen processing, as the response could be blocked by anti-MHC class II antibodies or a short fixation of the APC. This study demonstrates that class II-restricted CD4(+) Th1 cells, which recognize enteric bacterial antigens, infiltrate the gut mucosa and spleen of transplanted scid mice prior to and during the course of colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / physiology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / physiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, SCID
  • Th1 Cells / immunology


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interferon-gamma