Ephrin-A1 Suppresses Th2 Cell Activation and Provides a Regulatory Link to Lung Epithelial Cells

Jan G. Wohlfahrt, Christian Karagiannidis, Steffen Kunzmann, Michelle M. Epstein, Werner Kempf, Kurt Blaser, Carsten B. Schmidt-Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Gene expression screening showed decreased ephrin-A1 expression in CD4 + T cells of asthma patients. Ephrin-A1 is the ligand of the Eph receptor family of tyrosine kinases, forming the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases. Their immune regulatory properties are largely unknown. This study demonstrates significantly reduced ephrin-A1 expression in T cells of asthma patients using real time-PCR. Immunohistological analyses revealed strong ephrin-A1 expression in lung tissue and low expression in cortical areas of lymph nodes. It is absent in T cell/B cell areas of the spleen. Colocalization of ephrin-A1 and its receptors was found only in the lung, but not in lymphoid tissues. In vitro activation of T cells reduced ephrin-A1 at mRNA and protein levels. T cell proliferation, activation-induced, and IL-2-dependent cell death were inhibited by cross-linking ephrin-A1, and not by engagement of Eph receptors. However, anti-EphA1 receptor slightly enhances Ag-specific and polyclonal proliferation of PBMC cultures. Furthermore, activation-induced CD25 up-regulation was diminished by ephrin-A1 engagement. Ephrin-A1 engagement reduced IL-2 expression by 82% and IL-4 reduced it by 69%; the IFN-γ expression remained unaffected. These results demonstrate that ephrin-A1 suppresses T cell activation and Th2 cytokine expression, while preventing activation-induced cell death. The reduced ephrin-A1 expression in asthma patients may reflect the increased frequency of activated T cells in peripheral blood. That the natural ligands of ephrin-A1 are most abundantly expressed in the lung may be relevant for Th2 cell regulation in asthma and Th2 cell generation by mucosal allergens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-850
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


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