Administration to mouse of endotoxin from gram-negative bacteria leads to activation and apoptosis of T lymphocytes

Eur J Immunol. 1998 Feb;28(2):488-95. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-4141(199802)28:02<488::AID-IMMU488>3.0.CO;2-R.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from gramnegative bacteria is a well-known T cell-independent B lymphocyte mitogen and macrophage/monocyte activator. While the conventional view holds that LPS is ignored by T cells, we report here that administration of LPS to mice activates all B cells, but also engages most CD4 and CD8 T cells, as measured by the expression of the activation markers CD69 and CD25 and by size increase. T cells recruited in endotoxin-treated mice showed, following in vitro stimulation by concanavalin A, altered patterns of cytokine production. In vivo, massive T cell apoptosis was evidenced in the days following LPS exposure. The present observation may contribute novel insights into the mechanisms of endotoxin shock and of the immunological consequences of gram-negative infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / biosynthesis
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Cell Size / immunology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Endotoxins / administration & dosage*
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Salmonella typhimurium / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Endotoxins
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2