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Clin Exp Immunol. 2002 Feb;127(2):214-9.

Dendritic cells exposed in vitro to TGF-beta1 ameliorate experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis.

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Experimental Neurology and Neuroimmunology Units, Division of Neurology, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis (EAMG) is an animal model for human myasthenia gravis (MG), characterized by an autoaggressive T-cell-dependent antibody-mediated immune response directed against the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) of the neuromuscular junction. Dendritic cells (DC) are unique antigen-presenting cells which control T- and B-cell functions and induce immunity or tolerance. Here, we demonstrate that DC exposed to TGF-beta1 in vitro mediate protection against EAMG. Freshly prepared DC from spleen of healthy rats were exposed to TGF-beta1 in vitro for 48 h, and administered subcutaneously to Lewis rats (2 x 10(6)DC/rat) on day 5 post immunization with AChR in Freund's complete adjuvant. Control EAMG rats were injected in parallel with untreated DC (naive DC) or PBS. Lewis rats receiving TGF-beta1-exposed DC developed very mild symptoms of EAMG without loss of body weight compared with control EAMG rats receiving naive DC or PBS. This effect of TGF-beta1-exposed DC was associated with augmented spontaneous and AChR-induced proliferation, IFN-gamma and NO production, and decreased levels of anti-AChR antibody-secreting cells. Autologous DC exposed in vitro to TGF-beta1 could represent a new opportunity for DC-based immunotherapy of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases.

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