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Am J Transplant. 2006 Dec;6(12):2841-50.

Presence of functional mouse regulatory CD4+CD25+T cells in xenogeneic neonatal porcine thymus-grafted athymic mice.

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  • 1Transplantation Biology Research Division, State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Xenotransplantation with porcine thymus is emerging as a possible means to reconstitute host cellular immunity and to induce immune tolerance in rodents and large animals. However, the presence of regulatory T cells (Treg cells) in this model needs to be determined. We herein demonstrated that efficient repopulation of mouse CD4+CD25+Treg cells was achieved in Balb/c nude mice by grafting neonatal porcine thymic tissue (NP THY). Mouse CD4+CD25+T cells expressed normal levels of Foxp3 in NP THY-grafted nude mice. Furthermore, these CD4+CD25+Treg cells showed significant inhibitory effects on the cell proliferation or interleukin-2 products of syngeneic T cells to alloantigens, Con A or a peptide antigen, although the potent immunosuppressive function might be lower than CD4+CD25+Treg cells in Balb/c mice. CD4+CD25+T cells in NP THY-grafted nude mice showed significantly stronger inhibition on the response to donor porcine antigens of CD4+CD25(-)T cells than CD4+CD25+Treg cells in Balb/c mice. Both CD4+CD25+Treg cells in NP THY-grafted nude and Balb/c mice prevented the development of autoimmune disease mediated by syngeneic CD4+CD25(-)T cells in a similar efficient way in the secondary recipients. These findings provide evidence for the potential involvement of CD4+CD25+Treg cells in keeping self-tolerance and transplant tolerance in this xeno-thymus transplantation model.

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