Plasma cell-like morphology of Th1-cytokine-producing cells associated with the loss of CD3 expression

Am J Pathol. 2004 Feb;164(2):409-17. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)63131-8.


Here we clarified the morphology and phenotype of interleukin (IL)-17- and interferon (IFN)-gamma-producing cells in both in vitro and in vivo situations. Oligoclonal activation of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells with the superantigen Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin B and polyclonal activation with phorbol myristate acetate/phytohemagglutinin were used as in vitro models. This study was extended to various in vivo situations such as rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, and normal activated lymph nodes. The phenotype of IL-17- and IFN-gamma-producing cells was evaluated by immunohistochemistry using the CD3 and CD4 T-cell markers, the CD20, CD38, kappa and lambda light chain B-cell lineage markers. The expression of two chemokine receptors, CCR6 and CCR7, involved with their associated ligands CCL20 and CCL19/CCL21 in the migration of T lymphocytes, was evaluated in tissue sections. After both polyclonal and oligoclonal activation, IL-17+ and IFN-gamma+ cells acquired a plasma cell-like morphology associated with a high secretory activity, the reduced expression of CD3, and no change of CD4 expression. In rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, and activated lymph nodes, both IL-17- and IFN-gamma-producing cells had the same morphology. These Th1 cytokine-producing cells were CD4(+)-, CD3-, and B-cell lineage marker-negative. In both in vitro and in vivo situations, expression of CCR6 or CCR7 was not associated with a particular subset. In conclusion, activated T-helper CD4(+) T cells, by their release of cytokines, seem to have functional similarities with plasma cells secreting immunoglobulins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • CD3 Complex / biosynthesis*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Dermatomyositis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Phenotype
  • Plasma Cells / cytology
  • Receptors, Chemokine / biosynthesis
  • Th1 Cells / cytology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD3 Complex
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-17
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Interferon-gamma