The interaction between CD40 and its ligand (CD154) is crucial for IL-12 production and effective humoral immunity such as IgE production. Although the interaction seems to play a crucial role in asthmatic inflammation, previous studies investigating the role of the CD40 and CD154 interaction in experimental animal models of asthma are complicated due to multistep reactions in developing asthma. Here, in order to investigate the role of CD40 in the effector phase in the development of airway responses, we used CD40-deficient mice backcrossed with mice transgenic for an ovalbumin (OVA)-specific TCR (TCRtg). Using intranasal OVA administration followed by aerosol inhalation of OVA, greater airway hyperreactivity and eosinophilia in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were observed in CD40-deficient mice backcrossed with TCRtg mice (CD40-/-/TCRtg mice), compared with control littermates (CD40+/+/TCRtg mice). CD4+ helper T cell subset analysis of lung draining lymph nodes revealed that the Th1 component was significantly decreased in CD40-/-/TCRtg mice. Airway hyperreactivity and airway eosinophilia significantly correlated with the predomination of Th2 cells. Cytokine measurements in BALF also showed decreased IL-12 and the predominance of Th2 cells in CD40-/-/TCRtg mice. These results suggest that CD40 may play a protective role in developing asthma in the phase after establishing specific memory T cells through the regulation of the balance between Th1 and Th2 cells presumably via induction of IL-12.
- Airway hyperreactivity
- Th1/Th2 ratio