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Clin Immunol. 2007 Oct;125(1):34-42. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells contribute to the therapeutic effects of glatiramer acetate in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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  • 1Barrow Neurological Institute, St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ 85013, USA.


CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) are potent immunosuppressors that are pivotal in the maintenance of self-tolerance. The involvement of Tregs in therapies for immune-mediated diseases has been proposed, but direct supporting evidence is still lacking. While investigating mechanisms underlying the clinical benefits of glatiramer acetate (GA) in an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS), i.e., experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), we recently demonstrated that GA can protect mice deficient in the Th(2) cytokines IL-4, IL-10 and IL-4/IL-10 from acquiring EAE, suggesting that mechanisms other than Th(2) cells may be responsible for the therapeutic effects of GA. Here we demonstrate that GA treatment boosts the expression of Foxp3 on Tregs during EAE. Furthermore, adoptive transfer of purified Tregs from GA-treated EAE mice is more effective in preventing EAE development than Tregs from untreated EAE controls. Thus, our current data provide evidence that Tregs may be the major contributor to GA's therapeutic action in EAE and, possibly, MS. Further mechanistic studies to reveal the molecular events linking GA with Tregs may optimize GA treatment and lead to the development of new, even more effective therapies that utilize this mechanism of action.

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