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J Immunol. 2002 Sep 15;169(6):3232-41.

The early IL-4 response to Leishmania major and the resulting Th2 cell maturation steering progressive disease in BALB/c mice are subject to the control of regulatory CD4+CD25+ T cells.

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World Health Organization Immunology Research and Training Center, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, Epalinges, Switzerland.


Susceptibility and development of Th2 cells in BALB/c mice infected with Leishmania major result from early IL-4 production by Vbeta4Valpha8 CD4+ T cells in response to the Leishmania homolog of mammalian RACK1 Ag. A role for CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells in the control of this early IL-4 production was investigated by depleting in vivo this regulatory T cell population. Depletion induced an increase in the early burst of IL-4 mRNA in the draining lymph nodes of BALB/c mice, and exacerbated the course of disease with higher levels of IL-4 mRNA and protein in their lymph nodes. We further showed that transfer of 10(7) BALB/c spleen cells that were depleted of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells rendered SCID mice susceptible to infection and allowed Th2 differentiation while SCID mice reconstituted with 10(7) control BALB/c spleen cells were resistant to infection with L. major and developed a Th1 response. Treatment with a mAb against IL-4 upon infection with L. major in SCID mice reconstituted with CD25-depleted spleen cells prevented the development of Th2 polarization and rendered them resistant to infection. These results demonstrate that CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells play a role in regulating the early IL-4 mRNA and the subsequent development of a Th2 response in this model of infection.

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