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J Immunol. 2004 Jul 15;173(2):828-34.

IL-10 plays an important role in the homeostatic regulation of the autoreactive repertoire in naive mice.

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Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


We have previously shown that naive SJL (H-2(s)) mice, which are highly susceptible to myelin proteolipid protein (PLP)-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), have a very high frequency (1/20,000 CD4 T cells) of PLP(139-151)-reactive T cells in the naive repertoire. In this study, we examine the function of this endogenous PLP(139-151)-reactive repertoire in vivo and find that this repertoire encompasses the precursors of pathogenic T cells. Because SJL mice do not develop spontaneous EAE, we have explored the mechanisms that keep this autopathogenic repertoire in check and prevent the development of spontaneous autoimmunity. We crossed IL-4 and IL-10 deficiency onto the SJL background and analyzed the roles of these two immunoregulatory cytokines in regulating the size and effector function of the endogenous PLP(139-151)-reactive repertoire and development of autoimmune disease. We find that IL-10 is important in the homeostatic regulation of the endogenous PLP(139-151)-reactive repertoire in that it both limits the size of the repertoire and prevents development of effector autoaggressive T cells. SJL IL-10(-/-) mice with high numbers of PLP(139-151)-specific precursors in the repertoire did not develop spontaneous EAE, but when they were injected with pertussis toxin, they showed atypical clinical signs of EAE with small numbers of typical mononuclear cell infiltrates predominantly in the meninges. EAE could be inhibited by prior tolerization of the mice with soluble PLP(139-151) peptide. These findings indicate that IL-10 may contribute to the regulation of the endogenous autoimmune repertoire.

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