Clonal anergy to staphylococcal enterotoxin B in vivo: selective effects on T cell subsets and lymphokines

Eur J Immunol. 1993 Oct;23(10):2661-6. doi: 10.1002/eji.1830231041.


Injection of bacterial superantigens such as staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) in adult mice results in initial proliferation of SEB-responsive V beta 8+ T cells followed by induction of a state of non-responsiveness frequently referred to as clonal anergy. We show here that SEB-induced anergy involves selective changes in lymphokine production and that it affects CD4+ V beta 8+ and CD8+ V beta 8+ T cells in different fashions. Whereas both CD4+ V beta 8+ and CD8+ V beta 8+ cells from anergic mice exhibit strongly reduced proliferative capacity and interleukin(IL)-2 production upon restimulation with SEB either in vivo or in vitro the CD8+ subset from SEB-injected mice produces other lymphokines (such as interferon(IFN)-gamma) at normal or slightly increased levels in response to SEB. Changes in the levels of production of IL-2 and IFN-gamma protein correlated well with mRNA accumulation both in vivo and in vitro. Collectively these data suggest that superantigen-induced anergy involves selective changes in signal transduction and/or gene regulation in T lymphocytes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / metabolism
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Lymphokines / biosynthesis*
  • Lymphokines / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Superantigens
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • CD8 Antigens
  • Enterotoxins
  • Lymphokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Superantigens
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal