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Blood. 2013 May 30;121(22):4595-602. doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-10-463174. Epub 2013 Apr 22.

Direct and indirect antigen presentation lead to deletion of donor-specific T cells after in utero hematopoietic cell transplantation in mice.

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Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine Department of Surgery, University of California-San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


In utero hematopoietic cell transplantation (IUHCTx) is a promising method to induce donor-specific tolerance but the mechanisms of antigen presentation that educate host T cells and the relative importance of deletion vs regulation in this setting are unknown. We studied the roles of direct and indirect antigen presentation (mediated by donor- and host-derived antigen-presenting cells [APCs], respectively) in a mouse model of IUHCTx. We found that IUHCTx leads to precocious maturation of neonatal host dendritic cells (DCs) and that there is early differentiation of donor-derived DCs, even after transplantation of a stem cell source without mature APCs. We next performed allogeneic IUHCTx into donor-specific T-cell receptor transgenic mice and confirmed that both direct and indirect antigen presentation lead to clonal deletion of effector T cells in chimeras. Deletion did not persist when chimerism was lost. Importantly, although the percentage of regulatory T cells (Tregs) after IUHCTx increased, there was no expansion in Treg numbers. In wild-type mice, there was a similar deletion of effector cells without expansion of donor-specific Tregs. Thus, tolerance induction after IUHCTx depends on both direct and indirect antigen presentation and is secondary to thymic deletion, without de novo Treg induction.

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