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J Neurosci Res. 2009 Nov 15;87(15):3511-9. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21981.

Depletion of CD4(+)CD25(+) T cells exacerbates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis induced by mouse, but not rat, antigens.

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Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


A key question in the field of autoimmunity concerns the fact that experimental disease is generally induced more easily with closely related, but not completely identical, tissue-restricted antigens. Here, the possibility that naturally occurring regulatory T cells (Tregs) for self-antigens are more potent than those for related antigens was investigated. The self-antigen specificity of naturally occurring Tregs was tested in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced with mouse (self) or closely related (rat) myelin oligodendrocyte glycoproteins (MOGs). Surprisingly, Treg depletion increased EAE severity in mice immunized with mouse, but not rat, MOG. This increase was associated with increased T-cell activation and infiltration of the central nervous system, as well as increased interleukin (IL)-17 production and a higher ratio of interferon-gamma- to IL-10-producing cells. These data suggest that Tregs are specific for self-antigen and do not "cross-protect" against autoimmunity even when disease is induced with closely related foreign antigens.

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