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Nat Biotechnol. 2002 Dec;20(12):1215-20. Epub 2002 Nov 11.

Targeting autoantigen-specific T cells and suppression of autoimmune encephalomyelitis with receptor-modified T lymphocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 N. Lauderdale Street, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


We demonstrate here the feasibility of antigen-specifically redirecting T cells against autoreactive T lymphocytes and thereby treating a model autoimmune disease. We created and transgenically expressed on T cells a heterodimeric chimeric receptor that genetically links an autoantigenic peptide, its restricting MHC, and the signal transduction domain of the T-cell receptor (TCR) zeta-chain. Engagement of the chimeric receptor by the TCR of autoreactive T cells activated the receptor-modified T cells in vitro and in vivo, inducing proliferation and cytolysis. Adoptively transferred receptor-modified T cells prevented and treated a model autoimmune disease, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), even after epitope spreading had diversified the autoantigenic response. Treatment reduced disease severity and increased survival of affected animals, and was durable for >75 days. The receptor-modified cells acted both by strongly attenuating T-cell response to autoantigen as well as by shifting the residual response from an immunopathologic Th1 to a protective Th2 format.

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