ICOS is required for the generation of both central and effector CD4(+) memory T-cell populations following acute bacterial infection

Eur J Immunol. 2015 Jun;45(6):1706-15. doi: 10.1002/eji.201445421. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


Interactions between ICOS and ICOS ligand (ICOSL) are essential for the development of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells and thus the formation and maintenance of GC reactions. Given the conflicting reports on the requirement of other CD4(+) T-cell populations for ICOS signals, we have employed a range of in vivo approaches to dissect requirements for ICOS signals in mice during an endogenous CD4(+) T-cell response and contrasted this with CD28 signals. Genetic absence of ICOSL only modestly reduced the total number of antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells at the peak of the primary response, but resulted in a severely diminished number of both T central memory and T effector memory cells. Treatment with blocking anti-ICOS mAb during the primary response recapitulated these effects and caused a more substantial reduction than blocking CD28 signals with CTLA4Ig. During the memory phase of the response further signals through ICOS or CD28 were not required for survival. However, upon secondary challenge only Tfh cell expansion remained heavily ICOS-dependent, while CD28 signals were required for optimal expansion of all subsets. These data demonstrate the importance of ICOS signals specifically for memory CD4(+) T-cell formation, while highlighting the potential of therapeutically targeting this pathway.

Keywords: CD28; CD4+ Memory; ICOS; T-cell responses; Tfh.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Infections / genetics
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / metabolism*
  • CD28 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Protein / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Protein / genetics
  • Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Protein / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CD28 Antigens
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Inducible T-Cell Co-Stimulator Protein