Roles of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in murine contact sensitivity revealed by in vivo monoclonal antibody depletion

J Immunol. 1990 Jun 1;144(11):4121-8.


mAb specific for murine CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets were utilized to determine the populations participating in delayed-in-time, cutaneous hypersensitivity responses in BALB/c mice. In vivo depletions of these T cell phenotypes revealed that delayed-type hypersensitivity to cellular and protein Ag were mediated by CD4+ effector cells, whereas CD8+ cells down-regulated such responses. Similar depletions in mice prior to sensitization with the hapten 1-fluoro-2,4-dinitrobenzene demonstrated a more complex pattern of cell participation in contact sensitivity (CS) responses. Depletion of CD4+ cells resulted in strikingly enhanced ear swelling, indicating not only an important effector role for CD8+ cells but also a down-regulatory role for some CD4+ cells; depletion of CD8+ cells revealed that some CD4+ cells also act as CS effectors. In vitro depletion of immune lymph node cells with the same mAb before adoptive transfer confirmed CS effector roles for both subsets, and also suggested that at least some CD4+ suppressors act on the efferent limb of the CS response, perhaps by down-regulating the activity of CD8+ effector cells. Partial in vivo depletion with small amounts anti-CD4 mAb and subsequent flow cytometric analysis of residual CD4+ cells was consistent with the hypothesis that CD4+ CS effector cells express a higher density of the CD4 antigen than do CD4+ suppressor cells, raising the possibility that these two functionally distinct CD4+ populations might be separable on the basis of their surface expression of CD4.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Dermatitis, Contact / immunology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Mice
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD8 Antigens