The ICE-like families of serine proteases (caspases) have integral roles in apoptosis. These studies were performed to further understand the role of two critical caspases in relation to apoptotic regulation of the alloimmune response. A novel three-color cytofluorographic technique was utilized for measuring intracellular (in situ) caspase-1-like and caspase-3-like enzyme activity in responding CD4+ and CD8+ T cells over several time points of human mixed lymphocyte reactions (MLR). We found that activity levels of caspase 3 in both CD4+ and CD8+ responder cells began rising at day 10 of the MLR and peaked at day 14. By comparison, caspase 1 demonstrated the highest activity at day 7 in both cell subpopulations. These results coincided with the appearance of apoptotic cells among the alloreactive cells in the MLR. These findings demonstrate that intracellular caspase-1- and -3-like enzyme activity increases in both CD4+ and CD8+ alloreactive T cells as the primary response to allostimulatory cells progresses. While the kinetic profiles for these enzymes differed, both had a temporal association with the appearance of apoptosis in the MLR-generated cells. In all cases, the highest enzyme activity and presence of apoptosis was seen subsequent to the peak proliferative period. These results support the concept that changes in the rate and amount of apoptosis in alloreactive T cells is one mechanism by which the response to alloantigens is attenuated (i.e., tolerance) or sustained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy