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Int Immunol. 2004 Dec;16(12):1769-80. Epub 2004 Nov 1.

Control of Foxp3+ CD25+CD4+ regulatory cell activation and function by dendritic cells.

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Department of Experimental Pathology, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Shogo-in 53, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.


Naturally occurring CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (TR) cells play crucial roles in normal immunohomeostasis. CD4+CD25+ TR cells exhibit a number of interesting in vitro properties including a 'default state' of profound anergy refractory to conventional T cell stimuli. We investigated the in vitro activation requirements of CD4+CD25+ TR cells using bone marrow-derived DC, which as professional antigen presenting cells (APC) can support the activation of normal naive T cells. Comparison of different APC types revealed that LPS-matured DC were by far the most effective at breaking CD4+CD25+ TR cell anergy and triggering proliferation, and importantly their IL-2 production. Examination of Foxp3, a key control gene for CD4+CD25+ TR cells, showed this to be stably expressed even during active proliferation. Although CD4+CD25+ TR cell proliferation was equivalent to that of CD25- cells their IL-2 production was considerably less. Use of IL-2-/- mice demonstrated that the DC stimulatory ability was not dependent on IL-2 production; nor did IL-15 appear crucial but was, at least in part, related to costimulation. DC also blocked normal CD4+CD25+ TR cell-mediated suppression partially via IL-6 secretion. DC therefore possess novel mechanisms to control the suppressive ability, expansion and/or differentiation of CD4+CD25+ TR cells in vivo.

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