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J Immunol. 2009 Dec 15;183(12):7635-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0804251.

Cutting edge: normal regional lymph node enrichment of antigen-specific regulatory T cells with autoimmune disease-suppressive capacity.

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


Natural CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Treg) effectively prevent autoimmune disease development, but their role in maintaining physiological tolerance against self-Ag of internal organs is not yet defined. In this study, we quantified disease-specific Treg (DS-Treg) as Treg that preferentially suppress one autoimmune disease over another in day 3 thymectomized recipients. A striking difference was found among individual lymph nodes (LN) of normal mice; Treg from draining LN were 15-50 times more efficient than those of nondraining LN at suppressing autoimmune diseases of ovary, prostate, and lacrimal glands. The difference disappeared upon auto-Ag ablation and returned upon auto-Ag re-expression. In contrast, the CD4(+)CD25(-) effector T cells from different individual LN induced multiorgan inflammation with comparable organ distribution. We propose that peripheral tolerance for internal organs relies on the control of autoreactive effector T cells by strategic enrichment of Ag-specific Treg in the regional LN.

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