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Nature. 2006 Aug 31;442(7106):997-1002. Epub 2006 Aug 20.

Mast cells are essential intermediaries in regulatory T-cell tolerance.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA.


Contrary to the proinflammatory role of mast cells in allergic disorders, the results obtained in this study establish that mast cells are essential in CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T (T(Reg))-cell-dependent peripheral tolerance. Here we confirm that tolerant allografts, which are sustained owing to the immunosuppressive effects of T(Reg) cells, acquire a unique genetic signature dominated by the expression of mast-cell-gene products. We also show that mast cells are crucial for allograft tolerance, through the inability to induce tolerance in mast-cell-deficient mice. High levels of interleukin (IL)-9--a mast cell growth and activation factor--are produced by activated T(Reg) cells, and IL-9 production seems important in mast cell recruitment to, and activation in, tolerant tissue. Our data indicate that IL-9 represents the functional link through which activated T(Reg) cells recruit and activate mast cells to mediate regional immune suppression, because neutralization of IL-9 greatly accelerates allograft rejection in tolerant mice. Finally, immunohistochemical analysis clearly demonstrates the existence of this novel T(Reg)-IL-9-mast cell relationship within tolerant allografts.

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