Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Injection of a staphylococcal superantigen (SAg) such as staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) in adult mice results in cytokine production and cell proliferation which can lead to septic shock. The aim of the present work was to identify the cytokines and co-stimulatory molecules regulating the in vivo systemic release of IFN-gamma, a cytokine known to play an important role in the pathophysiology associated with bacterial infections. We demonstrate in this study that (i) in contrast to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), SEB administration induces high levels of the p70, bioactive form, of IL-12; (ii) IL-12 production in response to SEB requires both CD40-dependent signals and IFN-gamma secretion; (iii) the early systemic release of IFN-gamma (3 h post-treatment) in response to SEB is IL-12 independent, while the sustained, late response (6-9 h post-treatment) requires endogenous IL-12 production; (iv) IL-12 produced during the primary SEB response (day 0) is responsible for priming cells in vivo to high IFN-gamma production upon secondary challenge (day 2); (v) the priming effect of IL-12 is TCR unrelated, as SEB-primed animals secrete high levels of IFN-gamma in response to both staphylococcal enterotoxin A and LPS administered 48 h later. The ability of bacterial SAg to induce septic shock and to modulate the immune response to unrelated antigens may therefore be related to their unique capacity to induce systemic IL-12 production in vivo. These observations also help to explain why SEB-primed animals, known to express an anergic phenotype 48 h post-treatment (as judged by defective IL-2 production and proliferation), nevertheless display an increased capacity to secrete the inflammatory cytokine IFN-gamma.