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Infect Immun. 2003 Apr;71(4):1755-62.

Helicobacter pylori-specific CD4+ CD25high regulatory T cells suppress memory T-cell responses to H. pylori in infected individuals.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Göteborg University Vaccine Research Institute (GUVAX), Göteborg University, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.


Helicobacter pylori colonizes the gastric and duodenal mucosa. The infection normally persists for life and causes peptic ulcers and gastric cancer in a subset of infected individuals. We hypothesized that the inability to clear the infection may be a consequence of H. pylori-specific regulatory T cells that actively suppress T-cell responses. Therefore, we characterized the T-cell responses to H. pylori in H. pylori-infected individuals without any subjective symptoms and in uninfected control subjects and investigated the role of regulatory CD4+ CD25(high) T cells during infection. The stimulation of CD4+ peripheral blood T cells with monocyte-derived dendritic cells pulsed with a membrane preparation of H. pylori resulted in proliferation and gamma interferon production in both infected and uninfected individuals. Sorted memory cells from infected individuals responded less than cells from uninfected subjects, and the unresponsiveness could be abolished by depletion of CD4+ CD25(high) regulatory T cells or the addition of interleukin 2. Furthermore, CD4+ CD25(high) T cells suppressed H. pylori-induced responses in cocultures with CD25(low/-) cells. Tetanus toxoid induced comparable responses in memory cells from infected and uninfected individuals in both the presence and the absence of regulatory T cells, suggesting that the suppression was H. pylori specific. In conclusion, we have shown that H. pylori-infected individuals have impaired memory CD4+ T-cell responses to H. pylori that are linked to the presence of H. pylori-specific regulatory T cells that actively suppress the responses.

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