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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47732. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047732. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Autocrine IFNγ controls the regulatory function of lymphoproliferative double negative T cells.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


TCRαβ(+) CD4(-)CD8(-)NK(-) double negative T cells (DN T cells) can act as regulatory T cells to inhibit allograft rejection and autoimmunity. Their role in graft-versus-host disease and mechanisms of suppression remain elusive. In this study, we demonstrate that DN T cells can inhibit CD4(+) T cell-mediated GVHD in a semi-allogeneic model of bone marrow transplantation. Furthermore, we present evidence of a novel autocrine IFNγ signaling pathway in Fas-deficient C57BL/6.lpr (B6.lpr) DN T cells. B6.lpr DN T cells lacking IFNγ or its receptor were impaired in their ability to suppress syngeneic CD4(+) T cells responding to alloantigen stimulation both in vitro and in vivo. Autocrine IFNγ signaling was required for sustained B6.lpr DN T cell IFNγ secretion in vivo and for upregulation of surface Fas ligand expression during TCR stimulation. Fas ligand (FasL) expression by B6.lpr DN T cells permitted lysis of activated CD4(+) T cells and was required for suppression of GVHD. Collectively, our data indicate that DN T cells can inhibit GVHD and that IFNγ plays a critical autocrine role in controlling the regulatory function of B6.lpr DN T cells.

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