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Immunity. 2003 Sep;19(3):317-28.

Epicutaneous immunization with autoantigenic peptides induces T suppressor cells that prevent experimental allergic encephalomyelitis.

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Section of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Information on how suppressor/regulatory T cells can be generated directly in vivo and prevent autoimmunity remains fragmentary. We show here that epicutaneous immunization (ECi) with the immunodominant peptide of myelin basic protein (MBP), Ac1-11, protects mice that are transgenic for an Ac1-11-specific T cell receptor against both the induced and spontaneous forms of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). This protection was antigen specific and antigen dose dependent, and was mediated by CD4(+)/CD25(-) T cells whose suppressive activity required cell-cell contact and could transfer protection to naive recipients. These ECi-induced suppressor T cells controlled naive MBP-specific CD4 T cells by inhibiting both their activation and their capacity to secrete IFN-gamma. There was no CD4 T cell infiltration in the brain of protected mice. Finally, ECi with autoantigenic peptides protected two nontransgenic models from relapsing-remitting EAE in an antigen-specific and antigen dose-dependent manner.

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