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J Exp Med. 1999 Oct 4;190(7):995-1004.

An essential role for interleukin 10 in the function of regulatory T cells that inhibit intestinal inflammation.

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  • 1Nuffield Department of Surgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, United Kingdom.


A T helper cell type 1-mediated colitis develops in severe combined immunodeficient mice after transfer of CD45RB(high) CD4(+) T cells and can be prevented by cotransfer of the CD45RB(low) subset. The immune-suppressive activities of the CD45RB(low) T cell population can be reversed in vivo by administration of an anti-transforming growth factor beta antibody. Here we show that interleukin (IL)-10 is an essential mediator of the regulatory functions of the CD45RB(low) population. This population isolated from IL-10-deficient (IL-10(-/-)) mice was unable to protect from colitis and when transferred alone to immune-deficient recipients induced colitis. Treatment with an anti-murine IL-10 receptor monoclonal antibody abrogated inhibition of colitis mediated by wild-type (WT) CD45RB(low) CD4(+) cells, suggesting that IL-10 was necessary for the effector function of the regulatory T cell population. Inhibition of colitis by WT regulatory T cells was not dependent on IL-10 production by progeny of the CD45RB(high) CD4(+) cells, as CD45RB(low) CD4(+) cells from WT mice were able to inhibit colitis induced by IL-10(-/-) CD45RB(high) CD4(+) cells. These findings provide the first clear evidence that IL-10 plays a nonredundant role in the functioning of regulatory T cells that control inflammatory responses towards intestinal antigens.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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