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Blood. 2003 Sep 15;102(6):2180-6. Epub 2003 May 29.

Induction of allopeptide-specific human CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells ex vivo.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, United Kingdom.


Although CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells are pivotal in the prevention of autoimmunity and appear to mediate transplantation tolerance, little is known concerning their antigen specificity. Here we describe the induction of a human CD4+CD25+ regulatory T-cell line specific for a defined peptide alloantigen (human leukocyte antigen A2 [HLA-A2] 138-170) by priming purified CD4+CD25+ cells ex vivo. The regulatory cells were anergic and retained their ability to suppress antigen-driven responses of CD4+CD25- cells. They inhibited not only interleukin 2 (IL-2) secretion by CD4+CD25- T cells specific for the same peptide but also direct alloresponse of naive CD4+CD25- T cells stimulated by semiallogeneic dendritic cells (DCs) in the presence of the peptide ("linked suppression"). They also suppressed the response of CD4+ T cells specific for viral and bacterial antigens. The suppressive T-cell line showed sustained high CD25 expression. These findings suggest that peripheral CD4+CD25+ regulatory cells are a precommitted cell lineage from which cells with specificity for non-self-peptides can be selected. This may pave the way for inducing and expanding peptide antigen-specific regulatory T cells ex vivo for cell therapy in transplantation, allergy, and autoimmune disease.

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