Differential effects of Th1 and Th2 lymphocyte supernatants on human microglia

Glia. 2003 Apr 1;42(1):36-45. doi: 10.1002/glia.10201.


We assessed the effects of soluble molecules (supernatants) produced by pro- (Th1) and anti- (Th2) inflammatory T-cell lines on the capacity of adult human CNS-derived microglia to express or produce selected cell surface and soluble molecules that regulate immune reactivity or impact on tissue protection/repair within the CNS. Treatment of microglia with supernatants from allo-antigen and myelin basic protein-specific Th1 cell lines augmented expression of cell surface molecules MHC class II, CD80, CD86, CD40, and CD54, enhanced the functional antigen-presenting cell capacity of microglia in a mixed lymphocyte reaction, and increased cytokine/chemokine secretion (TNFalpha, IL-6, and CXCL10/IP-10). These Th1-induced effects were not reproduced by interferon-gamma (IFNgamma) alone and were only incompletely blocked by anti-IFNgamma antibody. Th2 cell supernatant treatments did not alter costimulatory/adhesion molecule expression or induce cytokine/chemokine production by microglia. Th2 treatment, furthermore, failed to reduce the induction observed in response to Th1 supernatants. Neither Th1 nor Th2 supernatants induced production of the neurotrophin molecules, nerve growth factor, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Our results suggest that soluble molecules released by Th1 and not Th2 cells that infiltrate the CNS can stimulate resident microglia to acquire enhanced effector and accessory cell functions; the Th1-induced effects were not downregulated by Th2 supernatant-mediated bystander suppression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cell-Free System / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Microglia / cytology
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Microglia / immunology*
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Th1 Cells / cytology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / cytology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism*


  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Cytokines