Burn injury induces an early activation response by lymph node CD4+ T cells

Shock. 2006 Feb;25(2):135-40. doi: 10.1097/01.shk.0000190824.51653.32.


Several reports have shown that burn injury primes the immune system for an early and vigorous proinflammatory CD4 T cell response, suggesting that injury might signal CD4 T cell activation. We addressed this possibility by investigating changes in CD4 T cell activation marker expression, proliferation, and T cell receptor (TCR) usage at several early time points after burn injury. Using a sensitive flow cytometry approach to measure changes in the expression of Ki-67 antigen, a nuclear protein detected only in proliferating cells, we observed an early burst of proliferation by lymph node, but not spleen, CD4 T cells 12 h after burn injury. In contrast, mice that were treated with the bacterial superantigen staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) as a positive control for in vivo T cell activation did not show this early proliferation. Instead, we observed a significant increase in proliferating lymph node and spleen CD4 and CD8 T cells by 3 days after SEB treatment. Burn injury induced higher cell surface CD25 and CD152 expression on lymph node CD4 T cells, whereas SEB treatment increased CD25 and CD69 expression on CD4 and CD8 T cells. Finally, we found that burn injury induced a proliferative response at 12 h by an oligoclonal subset of TCR Vbeta-chain-expressing CD4 T cells (Vbeta4, Vbeta6, Vbeta11, and Vbeta14). Interestingly, CD4 T cells expressing the Vbeta11-TCR remained significantly increased in the lymph nodes 3 days after burn injury. Taken together, these findings indicate that burn injury induces an early proliferation and activation of CD4 T cells in the regional lymph nodes and that these proliferating cells show restricted TCR Vbeta-chain usage consistent with the idea that injury triggers an early T cell activation signal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Burns / immunology*
  • Burns / metabolism
  • Burns / pathology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Enterotoxins / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Biomarkers
  • Enterotoxins
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal