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J Immunol. 2002 Jul 15;169(2):750-7.

Modulation of Fas-dependent apoptosis: a dynamic process controlling both the persistence and death of CD4 regulatory T cells and effector T cells.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité 345, Institut Necker, Paris, France.


We have previously shown that regulatory CD25(+)CD4(+) T cells are resistant to clonal deletion induced by viral superantigen in vivo. In this work we report that isolated CD25(+)CD4(+) T cells activated in vitro by anti-CD3 Ab are resistant to Fas-induced apoptosis, in contrast to their CD25(-)CD4(+) counterparts. Resistance of CD25(+)CD4(+) T cells to Fas-dependent activation-induced cell death is not linked to their inability to produce IL-2 or to their ability to produce IL-10. The sensitivity of both populations to Fas-induced apoptosis can be modulated in vitro by changing the CD25(+)CD4(+):CD25(-)CD4(+) T cell ratio. The sensitivity of CD25(-)CD4(+) T cells to apoptosis can be reduced, while the sensitivity of CD25(+)CD4(+) T cells can be enhanced. Modulation of Fas-dependent apoptosis is associated with changes in cytokine production. However, while CD25(-)CD4(+) T cell apoptosis is highly dependent on IL-2 (production of which is inhibited by CD25(+)CD4(+) T cells in coculture), modulation of CD25(+)CD4(+) T cell apoptosis is IL-2 independent. Taken together, these results suggest that CD25(+)CD4(+) and CD25(-)CD4(+) T cell sensitivity to Fas-dependent apoptosis is dynamically modulated during immune responses; this modulation appears to help maintain a permanent population of regulatory T cells required to control effector T cells.

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