Human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are capable of presenting bacterial superantigens (SAg) to T cells in vitro by ligation of MHC class II molecules on RPE cells with the T cell receptor. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the involvement of adhesion molecules in presentation of SAg. Cultured human fetal and adult RPE cells were treated with interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma, 500 U ml(-1) for 72 hr) and afterwards pulsed with the SAg staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA, 500 ng ml(-1) for 2 hr) followed by coculture with freshly obtained T cells isolated from peripheral blood. Proliferation was measured by (3)H-thymidine incorporation assay. In selected experiments, either RPE or T cells were pre-treated with blocking antibodies specific for cell surface molecules. For comparison, dendritic cells were used as superantigen presenting cells for T cells. This study showed that presentation of SEA by RPE cells to resting T cells was dependent on the presence of the molecules CD2, CD58 and CD18, CD54. The cycling status of T cells was decisive, thus resting T cells but not activated T cells were capable to proliferate in response to SEA presentation. Proliferation of T cells induced by adult RPE cells was comparable to the proliferation induced by dendritic cells at concentrations of SAg above 100 ng ml(-1), but at concentrations of SAg below 10 ng ml(-1) the response was significantly lower for SAg presented by RPE cells compared to dendritic cells. The results demonstrate that CD2-CD58 and CD18-CD54 interactions are critical for SAg presentation by RPE cells to T cells. The findings thus suggest that also presentation of peptides to resting T cells by RPE cells may be dependent upon these interactions.
Experimental Eye Research, 2001, Vol 73, Issue 5, p. 723-33