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      Compromised Function of Regulatory T Cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Reversal by Anti-TNFα Therapy


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          Regulatory T cells have been clearly implicated in the control of disease in murine models of autoimmunity. The paucity of data regarding the role of these lymphocytes in human autoimmune disease has prompted us to examine their function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Regulatory (CD4 +CD25 +) T cells isolated from patients with active RA displayed an anergic phenotype upon stimulation with anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies, and suppressed the proliferation of effector T cells in vitro. However, they were unable to suppress proinflammatory cytokine secretion from activated T cells and monocytes, or to convey a suppressive phenotype to effector CD4 +CD25 T cells. Treatment with antitumor necrosis factor α (TNFα; Infliximab) restored the capacity of regulatory T cells to inhibit cytokine production and to convey a suppressive phenotype to “conventional” T cells. Furthermore, anti-TNFα treatment led to a significant rise in the number of peripheral blood regulatory T cells in RA patients responding to this treatment, which correlated with a reduction in C reactive protein. These data are the first to demonstrate that regulatory T cells are functionally compromised in RA, and indicate that modulation of regulatory T cells by anti-TNFα therapy may be a further mechanism by which this disease is ameliorated.

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          CD4+CD25high regulatory cells in human peripheral blood.

          Thymectomy in mice on neonatal day 3 leads to the development of multiorgan autoimmune disease due to loss of a CD(+)CD25(+) T cell regulatory population in their peripheral lymphoid tissues. Here, we report the identification of a CD4(+) population of regulatory T cells in the circulation of humans expressing high levels of CD25 that exhibit in vitro characteristics identical with those of the CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory cells isolated in mice. With TCR cross-linking, CD4(+)CD25(high) cells did not proliferate but instead totally inhibited proliferation and cytokine secretion by activated CD4(+)CD25(-) responder T cells in a contact-dependent manner. The CD4(+)CD25(high) regulatory T cells expressed high levels of CD45RO but not CD45RA, akin to the expression of CD45RB(low) on murine CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory cells. Increasing the strength of signal by providing either costimulation with CD28 cross-linking or the addition of IL-2 to a maximal anti-CD3 stimulus resulted in a modest induction of proliferation and the loss of observable suppression in cocultures of CD4(+)CD25(high) regulatory cells and CD4(+)CD25(-) responder cells. Whereas higher ratios of CD4(+)CD25(high) T cells are required to suppress proliferation if the PD-L1 receptor is blocked, regulatory cell function is shown to persist in the absence of the PD-1/PD-L1 or CTLA-4/B7 pathway. Thus, regulatory CD4 T cells expressing high levels of the IL-2 receptor are present in humans, providing the opportunity to determine whether alterations of these populations of T cells are involved in the induction of human autoimmune disorders.
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            Is Open Access

            Identification and Functional Characterization of Human Cd4+Cd25+ T Cells with Regulatory Properties Isolated from Peripheral Blood

            A subpopulation of peripheral human CD4+CD25+ T cells that expresses CD45RO, histocompatibility leukocyte antigen DR, and intracellular cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated antigen (CTLA) 4 does not expand after stimulation and markedly suppresses the expansion of conventional T cells in a contact-dependent manner. After activation, CD4+CD25+ T cells express CTLA-4 on the surface detectable for several weeks. These cells show a G1/G0 cell cycle arrest and no production of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, or interferon (IFN)-γ on either protein or mRNA levels. The anergic state of CD4+CD25+ T cells is not reversible by the addition of anti-CD28, anti–CTLA-4, anti–transforming growth factor β, or anti–IL-10 antibody. However, the refractory state of CD4+CD25+ T cells was partially reversible by the addition of IL-2 or IL-4. These data demonstrate that human blood contains a resident T cell population with potent regulatory properties.
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              Cutting edge: CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells suppress antigen-specific autoreactive immune responses and central nervous system inflammation during active experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

              Autoreactive CD4(+) T cells exist in normal individuals and retain the capacity to initiate autoimmune disease. The current study investigates the role of CD4(+)CD25(+) T-regulatory (T(R)) cells during autoimmune disease using the CD4(+) T cell-dependent myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-specific experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis model of multiple sclerosis. In vitro, T(R) cells effectively inhibited both the proliferation of and cytokine production by MOG(35-55)-specific Th1 cells. In vivo, adoptive transfer of T(R) cells conferred significant protection from clinical experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis which was associated with normal activation of autoreactive Th1 cells, but an increased frequency of MOG(35-55)-specific Th2 cells and decreased CNS infiltration. Lastly, transferred T(R) cells displayed an enhanced ability to traffic to the peripheral lymph nodes and expressed increased levels of the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and P-selectin that may promote functional interactions with target T cells. Collectively, these findings suggest that T(R) cells contribute notably to the endogenous mechanisms that regulate actively induced autoimmune disease.

                Author and article information

                J Exp Med
                The Journal of Experimental Medicine
                The Rockefeller University Press
                2 August 2004
                : 200
                : 3
                : 277-285
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, Centre For Rheumatology, Windeyer Institute, University College London, London W1T 4JF, England, UK
                [2 ]Cancer Research UK, London WC2A 3PX, England, UK
                Author notes

                Address correspondence to Michael R. Ehrenstein, Dept. of Medicine, Centre For Rheumatology, Windeyer Institute, University College London, London W1T 4JF, England, UK. Phone: 44-20-7380-9281; Fax: 44-20-7380-9278; email: m.ehrenstein@ 123456ucl.ac.uk ; or Claudia Mauri, Phone: 44-20-7679-9670; Fax: 44-20-7679-9143; email: c.mauri@ 123456ucl.ac.uk

                Copyright © 2004, The Rockefeller University Press

                tolerane,t lymphocytes,cytokines,autoimmune disease,tnfα
                tolerane, t lymphocytes, cytokines, autoimmune disease, tnfα


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