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Microorganisms and microbial products induce the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from monocytes and other myeloid cells, which may trigger dysfunction and apoptosis of adjacent lymphocytes. T cell-mediated immunity therefore is likely to comprise mechanisms of T cell protection against ROS-inflicted toxicity. The present study aimed to clarify the dynamics of reduced sulfhydryl-groups (thiols) in human T cells after presentation of viral and bacterial antigens by dendritic cells (DCs) or B cells. DCs, but not B cells, efficiently triggered intra- and extracellular thiol expression in T cells with corresponding antigen specificity. After interaction with DCs, the antigen-specific T cells acquired the capacity to neutralize exogenous oxygen radicals and resisted ROS-induced apoptosis. Our results imply that DCs provide antigen-specific T cells with anti-oxidative thiols during antigen presentation, which suggests a novel aspect of DC/T cell cross-talk of relevance to the maintenance of specific immunity in inflamed or infected tissue.