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Am J Pathol. 2006 Jun;168(6):1898-909.

Foxp3-expressing CD103+ regulatory T cells accumulate in dendritic cell aggregates of the colonic mucosa in murine transfer colitis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Ulm, Albert Einstein Allee 11, 89081 Ulm, Germany.


Little is known of the anatomical compartmentalization of colitogenic or regulatory T-cell responses in the murine transfer colitis model. Therefore, we analyzed the putative function of large intestinal dendritic cell (DC) aggregates, to which donor CD4+ T cells selectively home before colitis becomes manifest. The co-stimulatory molecules MHC-II, CD40, CD80, and CD86 were expressed in DC aggregates. IL-23 was primarily absent from DC aggregates at all stages of disease but was expressed at high levels in the severely inflamed lamina propria. Interferon-gamma was up-regulated in the lamina propria during early and advanced disease, whereas in DC aggregates it was detectable to a significant degree only in fully developed colitis. In contrast, Foxp3, a marker of regulatory T cells, was expressed in DC aggregates on T-cell transfer, coinciding with the appearance of CD103+ CD25- T cells in these clusters. Foxp3 was enriched in the CD103+ T-cell fraction isolated from the lamina propria of diseased mice. T-cell grafts depleted of CD103+ T cells generated similar numbers of colonic CD103+ T cells as unfractionated T cells. We conclude that DC aggregates are structures involved in the expansion and/or differentiation of CD103+ CD25- CD4+ Foxp3-expressing regulatory T cells.

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