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J Immunol. 2005 Jun 1;174(11):6772-80.

Specific T regulatory cells display broad suppressive functions against experimental allergic encephalomyelitis upon activation with cognate antigen.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, 65212, USA.


To date, very few Ag-based regimens have been defined that could expand T regulatory (Treg) cells to reverse autoimmunity. Additional understanding of Treg function with respect to specificity and broad suppression should help overcome these limitations. Ig-proteolipid protein (PLP)1, an Ig carrying a PLP1 peptide corresponding to amino acid residues 139-151 of PLP, displayed potent tolerogenic functions and proved effective against experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). In this study, we took advantage of the Ig-PLP1 system and the PLP1-specific TCR transgenic 5B6 mouse to define a regimen that could expand Ag-specific Treg cells in vivo and tested for effectiveness against autoimmunity involving diverse T cell specificities. The findings indicate that in vivo exposure to aggregated Ig-PLP1 drives PLP1-specific 5B6 TCR transgenic cells to evolve as Treg cells expressing CD25, CTLA-4, and Foxp3 and producing IL-10. These Treg cells were able to suppress PLP1 peptide-induced EAE in both SJL/J and F(1) (SJL/J x C57BL/6) mice. However, despite being effective against disease induced with a CNS homogenate, the Treg cells were unable to counter EAE induced by a myelin basic protein or a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide. Nevertheless, activation with Ag before transfer into the host mice supports suppression of both myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein- and myelin basic protein peptide-induced EAE. Thus, it is suggested that activation of Treg cells by the cognate autoantigen is necessary for operation of broad suppressive functions.

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