Immunologic function of endothelial cells: guinea pig aortic endothelial cells support mitogen-induced T lymphocyte activation, but do not function as antigen-presenting cells
Roska, A.K.; Johnson, A.R.; Lipsky, P.E.
Journal of Immunology 132(1): 136-145
The possibility that vascular endothelial cells (EC), like macrophages (M phi), can function as accessory cells necessary for mitogen- and antigen-induced T cell activation was examined. EC were enzymatically detached from the luminal surfaces of guinea pig aortas and then propagated in culture. Lymph node T lymphocytes were rigorously depleted of adherent cells, such that they completely lost the capacity to respond to mitogenic stimulation with phytohemagglutinin or concanavalin A. In this system, EC restored mitogen-induced T cell DNA synthesis as effectively as did M phi. This effect could not be explained by a facilitation of residual accessory cell activity within the responding T cell population, because EC restored mitogen responsiveness to T cells that had been treated with anti-Ia antibody and complement. Support of mitogen responsiveness could not be accounted for by secreted products of M phi or EC in the absence of intact accessory cells. In addition to the capacity to serve as fully sufficient accessory cells for the induction of mitogen-stimulated T cell proliferation, EC exerted a number of modulatory influences on T lymphocyte responses in cultures supported by M phi. When such cultures were supplemented with small numbers of EC, responses were dramatically augmented; larger numbers of EC resulted in marked suppression. At least part of these immunomodulatory effects could be accounted for by the activity of secreted products of EC. EC did not express detectable Ia antigens assayed either by indirect immunofluorescence, with the use of the fluorescence-activated cell sorter, or by complement-mediated cytotoxicity. Moreover, treating the EC population with anti-Ia antibody and complement had no effect on its capacity to support mitogen-induced T cell DNA synthesis. As would be expected from the lack of Ia antigen expression, EC were incapable of presenting antigen to primed T cells. They did, however, carry enough antigen into the cultures such that effective antigen presentation could occur when the cultures were supplemented with M phi that were syngeneic but not allogeneic to the responding T cells. Moreover, EC were capable of dramatically augmenting antigen-specific responses stimulated by antigen-pulsed M phi. There was no genetic restriction for this EC-mediated augmentation of antigen responsiveness. These results indicate that EC are capable of functioning as completely sufficient accessory cells for mitogen-induced T cell DNA synthesis and, in addition, are able to modulate ongoing M phi-supported T lymphocyte responses in both a positive and negative manner.