Th cells act via two synergistic pathways to promote antiviral CD8+ T cell responses.
Wiesel M., Joller N., Ehlert A-K., Crouse J., Spörri R., Bachmann MF., Oxenius A.
The mechanisms of how Th cells promote CD8(+) T cell responses during viral infections are largely unknown. In this study, we unraveled the mechanisms of T cell help for CD8(+) T cell responses during vaccinia virus infection. Our results demonstrate that Th cells promote vaccinia virus-specific CD8(+) T cell responses via two interconnected synergistic pathways: First, CD40L expressed by activated CD4(+) T cells instructs dendritic cells to produce bioactive IL-12p70, which is directly sensed by Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells, resulting in increased IL-2Rα expression. Second, Th cells provide CD8(+) T cells with IL-2, thereby enhancing their survival. Thus, Th cells are at the center of an important communication loop with a central role for IL-2/IL-2R and bioactive IL-12.