A subset of CD8+ T cells from allergic patients produce IL-4 and stimulate IgE production in vitro

Clin Exp Allergy. 1997 Dec;27(12):1402-11. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.1997.1180931.x.


Background and objective: A subset of IL-4 producing CD8+ T cells was recently identified in HIV patients. Based on these findings we examined whether IL-4 producing CD8+ T cells would also be present in allergic patients and what would be the functional relevance of this T-cell population.

Methods: We investigated the role of CD8+ T cells in IgE production of allergic diseases by analysing the cytokine profile of individual CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.

Results: In allergic patients about twice as many CD4+ T cells and six times as many CD8+ T cells produced IL-4 as in non-allergic controls. In contrast the frequency of IFNgamma+ T-cell subsets did not significantly differ between the allergic and non-allergic individuals. The frequency of IL4+ CD8+ T cells correlated with the level of serum IgE. Coculture experiments with T cells or purified CD8+ T cells together with autologous B cells indicated that CD8+ T cells enhanced IgE in vitro, but not IgM production, even when they were physically separated from B cells. This effect could be partially blocked by addition of an IL-4 binding protein, a soluble IL-4 receptor indicating that IL-4 is involved in CD8+ T-cell mediated IgE production.

Conclusions: These data indicate a positive role of IL-4 secreting CD8+ T cells in IgE regulation in allergic patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism*
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / chemistry
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / chemistry
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / physiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Interleukin-4
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Interferon-gamma