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Transplantation. 1995 Jun 15;59(11):1571-6.

Critical role of interleukin 4 in the induction of neonatal transplantation tolerance.

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Laboratoire Pluridisciplinaire de Recherche Expérimentale Biomédicale-Department of Immunology, Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.


Neonatal injection of semiallogeneic cells is known to promote differentiation of donor-specific CD4+ T cells into TH2-like cells in the peripheral lymphoid organs. We reasoned that the propensity of neonatal T cells to synthesize high levels of IL-4 might be involved in this polarization of the alloreactive response and thereby in the development of neonatal transplantation tolerance. First, analysis of cytokine gene expression in lymph nodes after neonatal injection of 10(7) (A/J x BALB/c)F1 cells in BALB/c mice indicated that IL-4 but not IL-2 is rapidly produced by CD4+ cells after allogeneic challenge in vivo. To determine whether the early production of IL-4 was involved in the establishment of allotolerance, BALB/c mice neonatally injected with (A/J x BALB/c)F1 spleen cells received on days 1 and 3 after birth 1 mg of anti-IL-4 mAb (11B11) or the same amount of control mAb. When grafted with A/J skin at 4 weeks, 88% of mice treated with control mAb retained their graft for more than 50 days, whereas rejection occurred within 30 days in 93% of mice treated with anti-IL-4 mAb. Analysis of T cell functions after in vitro restimulation with A/J spleen cells indicated that early IL-4 neutralization did not prevent donor-specific CTL unresponsiveness but allowed the emergence of alloreactive T cells secreting increased levels of IL-2 and IFN-gamma. We conclude that early production of IL-4 is critical for the establishment of neonatal transplantation tolerance in this strain combination, which has disparities across the entire H-2 region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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