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J Immunol. 2004 May 15;172(10):6003-10.

Induction of foxP3+ regulatory T cells in the periphery of T cell receptor transgenic mice tolerized to transplants.

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  • 1Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Oxford, UK.


Transplantation tolerance can be induced in mice by grafting under the cover of nondepleting CD4 plus CD8 or CD154 mAbs. This tolerance is donor Ag specific and depends on a population of CD4(+) regulatory T cells that, as yet, remain poorly defined in terms of their specificity, origin, and phenotype. Blocking of the Ag-specific response in vitro with an anti-CD4 mAb allowed T cells from monospecific female TCR-transgenic mice against the male Ag Dby, presented by H-2E(k), to express high levels of foxP3 mRNA. foxP3 induction was dependent on TGF-beta. The nondepleting anti-CD4 mAb was also able to induce tolerance in vivo in such monospecific TCR-transgenic mice, and this too was dependent on TGF-beta. As in conventional mice, acquired tolerance was dominant, such that naive monospecific T cells were not able to override tolerance. Splenic T cells from tolerant mice proliferated normally in response to Ag, and secreted IFN-gamma and some IL-4, similar to control mice undergoing primary or secondary graft rejection. High levels of foxP3 mRNA, and glucocorticoid-induced TNFR superfamily member 18 (GITR)(+) CD25(+) T cells were found within the tolerated skin grafts of long-term tolerant recipients. These data suggest that regulatory T cells maintaining transplantation tolerance after CD4 Ab blockade can be induced de novo through a TGF-beta-dependent mechanism, and come to accumulate in tolerated grafts.

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