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J Immunol. 2001 Aug 15;167(4):1945-53.

Regulatory T cells induced by 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and mycophenolate mofetil treatment mediate transplantation tolerance.

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  • 1Roche Milano Ricerche, Milan, Italy.


1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D3, and mycophenolate mofetil, a selective inhibitor of T and B cell proliferation, modulate APC function and induce dendritic cells (DCs) with a tolerogenic phenotype. Here we show that a short treatment with these agents induces tolerance to fully mismatched mouse islet allografts that is stable to challenge with donor-type spleen cells and allows acceptance of donor-type vascularized heart grafts. Peritransplant macrophages and DCs from tolerant mice express down-regulated CD40, CD80, and CD86 costimulatory molecules. In addition, DCs from the graft area of tolerant mice secrete, upon stimulation with CD4+ cells, 10-fold lower levels of IL-12 compared with DCs from acutely rejecting mice, and induce a CD4+ T cell response characterized by selective abrogation of IFN-gamma production. CD4+ but not CD8+ or class II+ cells from tolerant mice, transferred into naive syngeneic recipients, prevent rejection of donor-type islet grafts. Graft acceptance is associated with impaired development of IFN-gamma-producing type 1 CD4+ and CD8+ cells and an increased percentage of CD4+CD25+ regulatory cells expressing CD152 in the spleen and in the transplant-draining lymph node. Transfer of CD4+CD25+ cells from tolerant but not naive mice protects 100% of the syngeneic recipients from islet allograft rejection. These results demonstrate that a short treatment with immunosuppressive agents, such as 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3/mycophenolate mofetil, induces tolerance to islet allografts associated with an increased frequency of CD4+CD25+ regulatory cells that can adoptively transfer transplantation tolerance.

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