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J Immunol. 2002 Feb 1;168(3):1080-6.

CD25+CD4+ regulatory T cells prevent graft rejection: CTLA-4- and IL-10-dependent immunoregulation of alloresponses.

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


Specific and selective immunological unresponsiveness to donor alloantigens can be induced in vivo. We have shown previously that CD25+CD4+ T cells from mice exhibiting long-term operational tolerance to donor alloantigens can regulate rejection of allogeneic skin grafts mediated by CD45RB(high)CD4+ T cells. In this study, we wished to determine whether donor-specific regulatory cells can be generated during the induction phase of unresponsiveness, i.e., before transplantation. We provide evidence that pretreatment with anti-CD4 Ab plus a donor-specific transfusion generates donor-specific regulatory CD25+CD4+ T cells that can suppress rejection of skin grafts mediated by naive CD45RB(high)CD4+ T cells. Regulatory cells were contained only in the CD25+ fraction, as equivalent numbers of CD25-CD4+ T cells were unable to regulate rejection. This pretreatment strategy led to increased expression of CD122 by the CD25+CD4+ T cells. Blockade of both the IL-10 and CTLA-4 pathways abrogated immunoregulation mediated by CD25+ T cells, suggesting that IL-10 and CTLA-4 are required for the functional activity of this population of immunoregulatory T cells. In clinical transplantation, the generation of regulatory T cells that could provide dynamic control of rejection responses is a possible route to permanent graft survival without the need for long-term immunosuppression.

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