Interleukin-21 Inhibits Dendritic Cell-Mediated T Cell Activation and Induction of Contact Hypersensitivity In Vivo

Katja Brandt, Silvia Bulfone-Paus, André Jenckel, Donald C. Foster, Ralf Paus, René Rückert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Interleukin (IL)-21 is a newly described cytokine that is produced by activated T cells and displays structural homology to IL-4 and IL-15. We here analyzed the role of IL-21 in dendritic cell (DC)-induced, T cell-mediated contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in vivo and on T cell activation and unspecific mixed lymphocyte reaction in vitro. By PCR, we demonstrate here constitutive expression of the specific IL-21 receptor and the common γ-chain in DC, which together are able to mediate IL-21 signaling. Short-time incubation of in vitro generated DC with IL-21 significantly reduced their potential to induce an antigen-specific CD8+ T cell proliferation. Interestingly, 2h incubation of these DC with IL-21 before injection completely inhibited the potential of these DC to induce a CHS reaction to the hapten fluorescein 5-isothiocyanate in vivo. Mice injected with IL-21-treated DC even failed to mount a CHS response after repetitive injection of non-IL-21-treated DC 2 weeks later, suggesting that an antigen-specific unresponsiveness can be induced by IL-21-treated DC. Our data demonstrate that IL-21 is a new modulator of DC-T cell interaction with the potential to induce DC-mediated antigen-specific tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1379-1382
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytokines
  • Dendritic cells
  • Inflammation
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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