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J Immunol. 2008 Oct 1;181(7):4638-47.

Intrinsic and induced regulation of the age-associated onset of spontaneous experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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Department of Microbiology-Immunology and the Interdepartmental Immunobiology Center, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Multiple sclerosis is characterized by perivascular CNS infiltration of myelin-specific CD4(+) T cells and activated mononuclear cells. TCR transgenic mice on the SJL background specific for proteolipid protein (PLP)(139-151) develop a high incidence of spontaneous experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (sEAE). We examined the intrinsic mechanisms regulating onset and severity of sEAE. CD4(+) T cells isolated from the cervical lymph nodes, but not spleens, of diseased 5B6 transgenic mice are hyperactivated when compared with age-matched healthy mice and produce both IFN-gamma and IL-17, indicating that the cervical lymph node is the initial peripheral activation site. The age-associated development of sEAE correlates with a decline in both the functional capacity of natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) and in PLP(139-151)-induced IL-10 production and a concomitant increase in IL-17 production. Anti-CD25-induced inactivation of nTregs increased the incidence and severity of sEAE. Conversely, induction of peripheral tolerance via the i.v. injection of PLP(139-151)-pulsed, ethylcarbodiimide-fixed APCs (PLP(139-151)-SP) inhibited the development of clinical disease concomitant with increased production of IL-10 and conversion of Foxp3(+) Tregs from CD4(+)CD25(-) progenitors. These data indicate that heterogeneous populations of Tregs regulate onset of sEAE, and that induction of peripheral tolerance can be exploited to prevent/treat spontaneous autoimmune disease.

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