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J Immunol. 2000 Sep 15;165(6):3105-10.

CD25 is a marker for CD4+ thymocytes that prevent autoimmune diabetes in rats, but peripheral T cells with this function are found in both CD25+ and CD25- subpopulations.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Previously we have shown that autoimmune diabetes, induced in rats by a protocol of adult thymectomy and split-dose gamma irradiation, can be prevented by the transfer of a subset of CD4+ T cells with a memory phenotype (CD45RC-), as well as by CD4+CD8- thymocytes, from syngeneic donors. Further studies now reveal that in the thymus the regulatory cells are observed in the CD25+ subset of CD4+CD8- cells, whereas transfer of the corresponding CD25- thymocyte subset leads to acceleration of disease onset in prediabetic recipients. However, in the periphery, not all regulatory T cells were found to be CD25+. In thoracic duct lymph, cells that could prevent diabetes were found in both CD25- and CD25+ subsets of CD4+CD45RC- cells. Further, CD25- regulatory T cells were also present within the CD4+CD45RC- cell subset from spleen and lymph nodes, but were effective in preventing diabetes only after the removal of CD25- recent thymic emigrants. Phenotypic analysis of human thymocytes showed the presence of CD25+ cells in the same proportions as in rat thymus. The possible developmental relationship between CD25+ and CD25- regulatory T cells is discussed.

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