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Immunology. 1985 Oct;56(2):253-60.

The role of antigen recognition and suppressor cells in mice with oral tolerance to ovalbumin.


The induction of tolerance by feeding proteins may prevent potentially harmful delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactions to food antigens. Suppressor T cells (Ts) are present in mice with tolerance of systemic DTH after feeding ovalbumin (OVA) but, as other immunoregulatory mechanisms have also been described, the exact role of Ts in maintaining tolerance is not known. In this study, we have used the ability of native and denaturated OVA to cross-react at the level of helper/effector T cells, but not Ts, to re-examine the role of Ts in oral tolerance to OVA. Mice immunized with native OVA (nOVA) or denatured OVA (dOVA) in adjuvant had fully cross-reacting DTH to either nOVA or dOVA, but intravenous administration of antigen induced Ts which were specific for the appropriate form. Mice fed nOVA or dOVA had identical tolerance of systemic DTH to both forms of OVA, and feeding nOVA induced splenic Ts which suppressed the DTH response to both nOVA and dOVA. Splenic Ts could not be detected in mice fed dOVA. The results support the hypothesis that tolerance of systemic DTH in mice fed native proteins is due to Ts. Although, for the moment, there is no complementary evidence for a role for Ts in oral tolerance to denatured proteins, this study is consistent with the idea that Ts are the mechanism which normally prevent enteropathy due to DTH against dietary proteins. In addition, our study underlines the differences between orally and parenterally induced Ts and reinforces the view that fed proteins induce Ts after processing by the gut or its lymphoid accessory cells.

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