Early expression of cytokines in lymph nodes after treatment in vivo with Staphylococcus enterotoxin B

J Immunol Methods. 1994 Sep 30;175(1):47-58. doi: 10.1016/0022-1759(94)90330-1.


Excessive cytokine expression induced by superantigen may be one aspect of the pathophysiology associated with Gram positive bacteremia. We have undertaken a study of the kinetics of cytokine production in lymph nodes obtained from in vivo Staphylococcus enterotoxin B (SEB) treated animals. This study was designed to evaluate the short term cytokine profile observed using immunohistochemistry (IHC) in BALB/c mice injected intraperitoneally (i.p.). The observed immunohistochemical kinetic profiles were corroborated using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) RNA analysis. We report here that TNF, IL-2, and IFN-gamma are the principal cytokines which were detected within hours of SEB administration, and that other cytokines such as IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, GM-CSF and M-CSF were undetectable. TNF and IL-2 appeared very early following SEB priming, and were observed by 1 h. IFN-gamma which appeared later (maximally at 14 h) was produced predominantly by CD8+ cells. In contrast, the TNF and IL-2 were produced primarily by CD4+ cells. Identical results were obtained by IHC and RT-PCR; the kinetics of mRNA expression slightly preceded the appearance of protein. The TNF and IFN-gamma staining patterns observed in lymph node sections were indicative of Golgi-localized cytokine. The IL-2 staining pattern observed in lymph node sections was distinctive, covering a significant local area of cells. This local regional concentration of IL-2, which may result from cytokine attached to extracellular binding components, may be an important aspect of the activation phase of a developing immune response. Rapid induction and excessive cytokine production elicited by superantigen in vivo, may ultimately help to explain the shock and death associated with SEB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Frozen Sections
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Cytokines
  • Enterotoxins
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal