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J Immunol. 2008 Apr 1;180(7):4366-70.

Cutting edge: Autoimmune disease in day 3 thymectomized mice is actively controlled by endogenous disease-specific regulatory T cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Female B6AF1 mice thymectomized on day 3 (d3tx) develop autoimmune ovarian disease (AOD) and dacryoadenitis. It has been hypothesized that d3tx breaks tolerance by depleting late ontogeny regulatory T cells (Treg). We now report that Treg greatly expand over effector T cells in d3tx mice and adoptively suppress autoimmune disease in d3tx recipients. In the d3tx donors, Treg from ovarian lymph nodes (LN) preferentially suppress AOD and Treg from lacrimal gland LN preferentially suppress dacryoadenitis, suggesting they are strategically positioned for disease control. Indeed, the autologous disease in d3tx mice is dramatically enhanced by in vivo depletion of endogenous Treg. Moreover, normal 3-day-old mice possess Treg that suppress AOD and autoimmune gastritis as efficiently as adult cells. Thus, d3tx mice possess disease-relevant Treg of presumed neonatal origin. They accumulate in the regional LN and actively inhibit concurrent autoimmune disease; however, they cannot fully prevent autoimmune disease development.

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