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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Oct 5;101 Suppl 2:14622-6. Epub 2004 Aug 20.

Therapeutic vaccination using CD4+CD25+ antigen-specific regulatory T cells.

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Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0540, USA.


Autoimmune disease results from the dysregulation of basic tolerogenic processes designed to control self/non-self-discrimination. Approaches to treat autoimmunity have focused historically on potent immunosuppressives that block the activation and expansion of antigen-specific T cells before they differentiate into pathogenic T cell responses. These therapies are very efficient in reducing clonal expansion and altering early signaling pathways. However, once the pathogenic responses are established (i.e., autoimmunity), the interventions are less effective on activated and differentiated T cell subsets (including memory T cells) or acting in the presence of an inflammatory milieu to abort immune responses at the target tissue and systemically. Moreover, the current immunotherapies require continuous use because they do not redirect the immune system to a state of tolerance. The continuous treatment leads to long-term toxicities and can profoundly suppress protective immune responses targeted at viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Over the past decade, there have been tremendous advances in our understanding of the basic processes that control immune tolerance. Among the most exciting has been the identification of a professional regulatory T cell subset that has shown enormous potential in suppressing pathologic immune responses in autoimmune diseases, transplantation, and graft vs. host disease. In this review, we summarize current efforts to induce and maintain tolerance in the autoimmune diabetes setting by using therapeutic vaccination with CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells. Emphasis will be placed on approaches to exploit regulatory T cells either directly or through the use of anti-CD3 immunotherapy.

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