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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Jun;23(6):1058-67. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2011090914. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

CD8+ regulatory T cells induced by T cell vaccination protect against autoimmune nephritis.

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Centre for Kidney Research, Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia.


Autoreactive T cells play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune kidney disease. T cell vaccination (TCV) may limit autoimmune disease and induce CD8+ regulatory T cells (Tregs). We used Heymann nephritis (HN), a rat model of human membranous nephritis, to study the effects of TCV on autoimmune kidney disease. We harvested CD4+ T cells from renal tubular antigen (Fx1A) -immunized rats and activated these cells in vitro to express the MHC Class Ib molecule Qa-1. Vaccination of Lewis rats with these autoreactive Fx1A-induced T cells protected against HN, whereas control-primed T cells did not. Rats that underwent TCV had lower levels of proteinuria and serum creatinine and significantly less glomerulosclerosis, tubular damage, and interstitial infiltrates. Furthermore, these rats expressed less IFN-γ and IL-6 in splenocytes, whereas the numbers of Tregs and the expression of Foxp3 were unchanged. In vitro cytotoxicity assays showed CD8+ T cell-mediated elimination of Qa-1-expressing CD4+ T cells. In vivo, TCV abrogated the increase in Qa-1-expressing CXCR5+ TFH cells observed in HN compared with controls. Taken together, these results suggest that TCV protects against autoimmune kidney disease by targeting Qa-1-expressing autoreactive CD4+ cells.

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