Effects of CD28 Costimulation on Long-Term Proliferation of CD4+ T Cells in the Absence of Exogenous Feeder Cells

Bruce L. Levine*, Wendy B. Bernstein, Mark Connors, Nancy Craighead, Tullia Lindsten, Craig B. Thompson, Carl H. June

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

299 Scopus citations


In this report, conditions for prolonged in vitro proliferation of polyclonal adult CD4+ T cells via stimulation with immobilized anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28 have been established. CD4+ cells maintained exponential growth for more than 60 days during which a total 109- to 1011-fold expansion occurred. Cell cultures exhibited cyclical changes in cell volume, indicating that, in terms of proliferative rate, cells do not have to rest before restimulation. Indeed, electronic cell size analysis was the most reliable method to determine when to restimulate with additional immobilized mAb. The initial ∼105-fold expansion was autocrine, occurring in the absence of exogenous cytokines or feeder cells. Addition of recombinant human IL-2 after the initial autocrine expansion resulted in continued exponential proliferation. Phorbol ester plus ionomycin also induced long-term growth when combined with anti-CD28 stimulation. Analysis of the T cell repertoire after prolonged expansion revealed a diverse repertoire as assessed by anti-TCR Vβ Abs or a PCR-based assay. Cytokines produced were consistent with maintenance of both Th1 and Th2 phenotypes; however, the mode of CD3 and CD28 stimulation could influence the cytokine secretion pattern. When anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 were immobilized on the same surface, ELISAs on culture supernatants revealed a pattern consistent with Th1 secretion. Northern analysis revealed that cytokine gene expression remained inducible. Spontaneous growth or cell transformation was not observed in more than 100 experiments. Together, these observations may have implications for gene therapy and adoptive immunotherapy. Furthermore, these culture conditions establish a model to study the finite lifespan of mature T lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5921-5930
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


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