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Clin Exp Allergy. 2008 Nov;38(11):1752-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2008.03081.x. Epub 2008 Jul 31.

Depletion of CD4+CD25+CD127lo regulatory T cells does not increase allergen-driven T cell activation.

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  • 1Laboratory for Immunohistochemistry and Immunopathology, Centre for Immune Regulation, Institute of Pathology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.



It has been suggested that allergic diseases are caused by defective suppression of allergen-specific Th2 cells by CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells. However, such studies have been hampered by the difficulty in distinguishing regulatory T cells from CD25-expressing activated T cells. Recently, it was shown that conventional T cells expressed high levels of CD127, whereas regulatory T cells were CD127(lo), allowing discrimination between these distinct T cell subpopulations.


The aim of this study was to study whether the putative regulatory subset defined as CD4(+)CD25(+)CD127(lo) was involved in grass pollen-reactive T cell responses.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were obtained from allergic donors and non-atopic controls out of season. Grass pollen-induced cytokine production and proliferation were compared in cultures of undepleted cells and cells depleted of CD4(+)CD25(+), CD4(+)CD25(+)CD127(hi) or CD4(+)CD25(+)CD127(lo) T cells.


Undepleted cell cultures from allergic patients showed significantly increased proliferation and Th2 cytokine production compared with non-atopic controls. Depletion of all CD25(+) T cells did not increase cytokine production or proliferation, and more importantly, no increase in Th2 cytokine production or proliferation was observed in cell cultures depleted of CD4(+)CD25(+)CD127(lo) cells (putative regulatory T cells) compared with undepleted PBMCs in both the allergic and the non-atopic group.


Our study showed that T cells from grass pollen-allergic patients and non-atopic controls responded very differently to grass pollen extract, but this difference could not be explained by differences in regulatory T cell function. Further studies are needed to understand the importance of regulatory T cells in allergy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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