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J Immunol. 2002 Mar 1;168(5):2188-99.

Administration of an antigen at a high dose generates regulatory CD4+ T cells expressing CD95 ligand and secreting IL-4 in the liver.

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Department of Clinical Bio-regulatory Science, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Shogoin Kawahara-cho 54, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.


Ags administered orally at a high dose are absorbed in immunogenic forms and perfuse the liver, which raises a question regarding the relevance of hepatic lymphocyte activation to the systemic hyporesponsiveness against the ingested Ag. Oral administration of 100 mg of OVA to the mice led to massive cell death of OVA-specific (KJ1-26+)CD4+ T cells by Fas-Fas ligand (FasL)-mediated apoptosis in the liver, which was associated with the emergence of hepatic KJ1-26+CD4+ T cells expressing FasL. Hepatic CD4+ T cells in OVA-fed mice secreted large amounts of IL-4, IL-10, and TGF-beta(1) upon restimulation in vitro and inhibited T cell proliferation. Adoptive transfer of these hepatic CD4+ T cells to naive mice and subsequent antigenic challenge led to suppression of T cell proliferation as well as IgG Ab responses to OVA; this effect was mostly abrogated by a blocking Ab to FasL. i.p. administration of an Ag at a high dose also generated hepatic CD4+FasL+ T cells with similar cytokine profile as T cells activated by oral administration of Ags at a high dose. Finally, we did not see an increase in FasL+ cells in the hepatic CD4+Vbeta8+ T cell subset of MRL/lpr/lpr mice given staphylococcal enterotoxin B, indicating the requirement for Fas-mediated signals. These hepatic CD4+FasL+ regulatory cells may explain the tolerogenic property of the liver and play roles in systemic hyporesponsiveness induced by an Ag administered at a high dose.

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