Depressed type 1 cytokine synthesis by superantigen-activated CD4+ T cells of women with human papillomavirus-related high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions.

Publication Date



Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 March; 11(2): 239–244.


Carcinoma of the cervix is causally related to infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and T cells play a pivotal role in the immune response of the host to rid itself of HPV infection. Therefore, we assessed the T-cell function of women with HPV-related cervical neoplasia against a superantigen, Staphylococcus enterotoxin B (SEB). Each woman provided a cervical brush specimen for HPV DNA testing and Papanicolaou (Pap) smears for the staging of cervical lesions. They also provided a blood specimen for determination of the ability of CD4(+) T and CD8(+) T cells to synthesize Th1 (interleukin-2 [IL-2], gamma interferon [IFN-gamma], and tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-alpha]) and Th2 (IL-10) cytokines in response to activation with SEB. Compared with control subjects with self-attested negative Pap smears, women with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) had significantly lower percentages of activated CD4(+) T cells that produced IL-2 (P = 0.045), IFN-gamma (P = 0.040), and TNF-alpha (P = 0.015) and a significantly lower percentage of activated CD8(+) T cells that produced IL-2 (P < 0.01). These data indicate that women with HPV-related cervical HSIL show a decrease in Th1 cytokine production by activated CD4(+) T cells and suggested that compromised T-helper functions may negatively impact the function of cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells.


Antigens, Bacterial, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia, Cervix Uteri, Cytokines, Enterotoxins, Female, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-10, Interleukin-2, Neoplasm Staging, Papillomavirus Infections, Precancerous Conditions, Superantigens, Th1 Cells, Th2 Cells, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha


PMCID: PMC371191