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J Exp Med. 1997 May 19;185(10):1769-75.

Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta)-dependent inhibition of T helper cell 2 (Th2)-induced autoimmunity by self-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-specific, regulatory CD4(+) T cell lines.

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Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale U28, Institut Fédératif de Recherche 30, Université Paul Sabatier, 31059 Toulouse, France.


Autoreactive anti-MHC class II T cells are found in Brown Norway (BN) and Lewis (LEW) rats that receive either HgCl2 or gold salts. These T cells have a T helper cell 2 (Th2) phenotype in the former strain and are responsible for Th2-mediated autoimmunity. In contrast, T cells that expand in LEW rats produce IL-2 and prevent experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a cell-mediated autoimmune disease. The aim of this work was to investigate, using T cell lines derived from HgCl2-injected LEW rats (LEWHg), the effect of these autoreactive T cells on the development of Th2-mediated autoimmunity. The five LEWHg T cell lines obtained protect against Th2-mediated autoimmunity induced by HgCl2 in (LEW x BN)F1 hybrids. The lines produce, in addition to IL-2, IFN-gamma and TGF-beta, and the protective effect is TGF-beta dependent since protection is abrogated by anti-TGF-beta treatment. These results identify regulatory, TGF-beta-producing, autoreactive T cells that are distinct from classical Th1 or Th2 and inhibit both Th1- and Th2-mediated autoimmune diseases.

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