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J Immunol. 2001 Sep 1;167(5):2555-60.

Antigen-specific blockade of T cells in vivo using dimeric MHC peptide.

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The Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Ag-specific immune tolerance in clinical organ transplantation is currently an unrealized but critical goal of transplant biology. The specificity and avidity of multimerized MHC-peptide complexes suggests their potential ability to modulate T cell sensitization and effector functions. In this study, we examined the ability of MHC-peptide dimers to modulate T cell function both in vitro and in vivo. Soluble MHC dimers induced modulation of surface TCR expression and inhibited T cell cytolytic activity at nanomolar concentrations in vitro. Furthermore, engagement of TCR by soluble dimers resulted in phosphorylation of the TCR zeta-chain and recruitment and phosphorylation of zeta-associated protein-70 to the signaling complex, the latter of which increased upon dimer cross-linking. Significantly, Ag-specific inhibition of an alloreactive TCR-transgenic T cell population in vivo resulted in consequent outgrowth of an allogeneic tumor. The prolonged Ag-specific suppression of expansion and/or effector function of cognate T cells in vivo suggests that soluble MHC dimers may be a means of inducing sustained Ag-specific T cell unresponsiveness in vivo.

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