CD31 is required on CD4+ T cells to promote T cell survival during Salmonella infection.
ABSTRACT Hematopoietic cells constitutively express CD31/PECAM1, a signaling adhesion receptor associated with controlling responses to inflammatory stimuli. Although expressed on CD4(+) T cells, its function on these cells is unclear. To address this, we have used a model of systemic Salmonella infection that induces high levels of T cell activation and depends on CD4(+) T cells for resolution. Infection of CD31-deficient (CD31KO) mice demonstrates that these mice fail to control infection effectively. During infection, CD31KO mice have diminished numbers of total CD4(+) T cells and IFN-γ-secreting Th1 cells. This is despite a higher proportion of CD31KO CD4(+) T cells exhibiting an activated phenotype and an undiminished capacity to prime normally and polarize to Th1. Reduced numbers of T cells reflected the increased propensity of naive and activated CD31KO T cells to undergo apoptosis postinfection compared with wild-type T cells. Using adoptive transfer experiments, we show that loss of CD31 on CD4(+) T cells alone is sufficient to account for the defective CD31KO T cell accumulation. These data are consistent with CD31 helping to control T cell activation, because in its absence, T cells have a greater propensity to become activated, resulting in increased susceptibility to become apoptotic. The impact of CD31 loss on T cell homeostasis becomes most pronounced during severe, inflammatory, and immunological stresses such as those caused by systemic Salmonella infection. This identifies a novel role for CD31 in regulating CD4 T cell homeostasis.