Proliferation and production of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and IL-4 in response to Staphylococcus aureus and staphylococcal superantigen in childhood atopic dermatitis

Clin Exp Immunol. 1997 Feb;107(2):392-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1997.278-ce1172.x.


We have examined the cell-mediated immunity (CMI) to Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from children with atopic dermatitis (AD) and from non-atopic child controls by measurement of proliferative responses and production of the cytokines IFN-gamma and IL-4. PBMC from children with AD showed significantly higher proliferative responses to both S. aureus (P < 0.01) and SEB (P < 0.05). Despite this enhanced proliferation, production of IFN-gamma in response to S. aureus (P < 0.001) and SEB (P < 0.01) from these PBMC was significantly diminished. In contrast, PBMC from children with AD were significantly more likely to produce IL-4 in response to S. aureus (P < 0.01). These findings demonstrate in vitro heightened CMI to S. aureus in children with AD, and implicate S. aureus as a potent inflammatory stimulant. Impaired IFN-gamma production to S. aureus in vivo may result in failure to eradicate S. aureus from skin. The organism's persistence on skin would contribute to inflammation by causing continued T cell activation and release of pro-inflammatory mediators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / metabolism*
  • Enterotoxins / pharmacology
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / microbiology
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Superantigens


  • Enterotoxins
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Superantigens
  • Interleukin-4
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal
  • Interferon-gamma