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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2008 Oct 15;125(3-4):234-45. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2008.05.019. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Antigen-specific regulatory T cells in bovine paratuberculosis.

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Molecular Pathogenesis Laboratory, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) is an intracellular pathogen that survives in the host's intestinal macrophages and causes chronic enteritis in ruminants. The subclinical stage of MAP infection is accompanied by loss of pro-inflammatory T(H)1 response, and a predominant, but ineffective, antibody-mediated T(H)2 response. How MAP interacts with the bovine immune system and suppresses T(H)1 responses is unclear. Studies carried out in our lab and others indicate that when peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from subclinical MAP-infected cattle are stimulated with MAP-antigen, IL-10 is up-regulated and leads to suppression of IFN-gamma expression in MAP-antigen-reactive effector T cells. IL-10 up-regulation and reduction in IFN-gamma would favor MAP survival and proliferation in macrophages. Depletion studies in PBMCs from MAP-infected cattle also revealed that the MAP responsive T-cell population that produces IL-10 is CD4(+) and CD25(+). Therefore, we hypothesize that cattle infected with MAP develop regulatory T (Treg) cells capable of producing IL-10 that in turn limits peripheral and tissue-specific T(H)1 immune responses. The aim of this review is to summarize current thinking regarding Treg cells and provide preliminary evidence that infection of cattle with MAP may lead to development of Treg cells.

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