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J Immunol. 2004 Mar 15;172(6):3580-9.

Distinct roles for the OX40-OX40 ligand interaction in regulatory and nonregulatory T cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.


The OX40 (CD134) molecule is induced primarily during T cell activation and, as we show in this study, is also expressed on CD25+CD4+ regulatory T (Treg) cells. A necessary role for OX40 in the development and homeostasis of Treg cells can be inferred from the reduced numbers of the cells present in the spleens of OX40-deficient mice, and their elevated numbers in the spleens of mice that overexpress the OX40 ligand (OX40L). The homeostatic proliferation of Treg cells following transfer into lymphopenic mice was also found to be potentiated by the OX40-OX40L interaction. Suppression of T cell responses by Treg cells was significantly impaired in the absence of OX40, indicating that, in addition to its homeostatic functions, OX40 contributes to efficient Treg-mediated suppression. However, despite this, we found that CD25-CD4+ T cells became insensitive to Treg-mediated suppression when they were exposed to OX40L-expressing cells, or when they were treated with an agonistic OX40-specific mAb. OX40 signaling could also abrogate the disease-preventing activity of Treg cells in an experimental model of inflammatory bowel disease. Thus, although the data reveal important roles for OX40 signaling in Treg cell development, homeostasis, and suppressive activity, they also show that OX40 signals can oppose Treg-mediated suppression when they are delivered directly to Ag-engaged naive T cells.

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