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Eur J Immunol. 2006 Feb;36(2):305-17.

Increased antigen presenting cell-mediated T cell activation in mice and patients without the autoimmune regulator.

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Department of Immunology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.


Patients with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I (APS I)suffer from endocrine and non-endocrine disorders due to mutations in the autoimmune regulator gene (AIRE). Mouse Aire is expressed both in thymic medullary epithelial cells and in peripheral antigen-presenting cells, suggesting a role in both central and peripheral tolerance. We here report that Aire(-/-) dendritic cells (DC) activate naive T cells more efficiently than do Aire(+/+) DC. Expression array analyses of Aire(-/-) DC revealed differential regulation of 68 transcripts, among which, the vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) transcript was up-regulated in Aire(-/-) DC. Concurrently, the expression of the VCAM-1 protein was up-regulated on both Aire(-/-) DC and monocytes from APS I patients. Blocking the interaction of VCAM-1 prevented enhanced Aire(-/-) DC stimulation of T cell hybridomas. We determined an increased number of DC in spleen and lymph nodes and of monocytes in the blood from Aire(-/-) mice, and an increased number of blood monocytes in APS I patients. Our findings imply a role for Aire in peripheral DC regulation of T cell activation, and suggest that Aire participates in peripheral tolerance.

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