Despite pathophysiologic effects including diarrhea, cholera toxin (CT) is a potent mucosal immunogen and adjuvant. We investigated the influence of CT on T helper (Th)-type 1 (Th1) and Th2 cell-regulated Ag-specific B cell isotype and IgG subclass Ab responses elicited when the toxin was co-administered orally with different protein Ags. When mice were orally immunized with tetanus toxoid (TT) and CT as adjuvant, this regimen induced TT-specific secretory IgA responses in the gastrointestinal tract as well as serum IgG, including IgG1 and IgG2b subclasses, and IgA responses. This oral regimen also induced TT- and CT-B-specific IgE responses. In addition, CT also elicited adjuvant effects for Ag-specific IgG1, IgE, and IgA responses when two other protein Ags, OVA and hen egg white lysozyme, were given by the oral route. Quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR was performed to assess levels of mRNA for Th1 (IFN-gamma) and Th2 (IL-4) cytokine expression in TT-stimulated CD4+ T cell cultures. Both Peyer's patches and splenic CD4+ T cells expressed markedly increased levels of IL-4-specific message, but did not result in changes in IFN-gamma mRNA expression. To determine whether the route of immunization influenced IgE responses, mice were immunized s.c. with TT and CT as adjuvant. Significant increases in total and TT-specific IgE Abs were induced when CT was co-administered. Taken together, these results show that CT acts as a mucosal adjuvant to enhance Th2-type responses and in particular, the IL-4 produced results in a characteristic Ab isotype pattern associated with this cytokine.

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