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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Feb;35(2):557-67.

CD40/CD40L interaction regulates CD4+CD25+ T reg homeostasis through dendritic cell-produced IL-2.

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Immunotherapy and Gene Therapy Unit, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.


CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (T reg) development and homeostasis require IL-2 and costimulation through same TNF-receptor family members. CD40KO mice have reduced number of T reg in peripheral blood, thymus and spleen. Herein we show that naive T reg express low basal level of CD40L that is upregulated upon TCR-triggered mediated activation. Treatment of wt mice with Ab blocking CD40/CD40L interaction results in a fast decrease in T reg number that rapidly recovers upon Ab withdrawal. CFSE-labeled T reg from wt mice injected into CD40KO, but not wild-type (wt) mice, showed reduced survival and proliferation in homeostatic setting. In vitro, dendritic cells from CD40KO mice but not wt mice produce diminished amount of IL-2 upon T reg encounter and are impaired in expanding T reg, a defect corrected by the addition of rIL-2. Accordingly, four daily IL-2 administrations to CD40KO mice normalize T reg number by promoting both their survival and homeostatic proliferation. Such IL-2 effect is transient since T reg number returns to the low constitutive level described in CD40KO mice within 5 days upon IL-2 withdrawal thus suggesting that IL-2 is persistently needed to assure T reg homeostasis.

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