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      Immunologic self-tolerance maintained by CD25+CD4+ naturally anergic and suppressive T cells: induction of autoimmune disease by breaking their anergic/suppressive state.

      International Immunology

      Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, pharmacology, Antigens, CD28, immunology, Antigens, CD4, Autoimmune Diseases, Clonal Anergy, Interleukin-2, Lymphocyte Activation, Mice, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mice, Nude, Mice, SCID, Mice, Transgenic, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, physiology, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta, genetics, Receptors, Interleukin-2, Self Tolerance, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory

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          Elimination of CD25+ T cells, which constitute 5-10% of peripheral CD4+ T cells in normal naive mice, leads to spontaneous development of various autoimmune diseases. These immunoregulatory CD25+CD4+ T cells are naturally unresponsive (anergic) in vitro to TCR stimulation, and, upon stimulation, suppress proliferation of CD25-CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells. The antigen concentration required for stimulating CD25+CD4+ T cells to exert suppression is much lower than that required for stimulating CD25-CD4+ T cells to proliferate. The suppression, which results in reduced IL-2 production by CD25-CD4+ T cells, is dependent on cellular interactions on antigen-presenting cells (and not mediated by far-reaching or long-lasting humoral factors or apoptosis-inducing signals) and antigen non-specific in its effector phase. Addition of high doses of IL-2 or anti-CD28 antibody to the in vitro T cell stimulation culture not only breaks the anergic state of CD25+CD4+ T cells, but also abrogates their suppressive activity simultaneously. Importantly, the anergic/suppressive state of CD25+CD4+ T cells appeared to be their basal default condition, since removal of IL-2 or anti-CD28 antibody from the culture milieu allows them to revert to the original anergic/suppressive state. Furthermore, transfer of such anergy/suppression-broken T cells from normal mice produces various autoimmune diseases in syngeneic athymic nude mice. These results taken together indicate that one aspect of immunologic self-tolerance is maintained by this unique CD25+CD4+ naturally anergic/suppressive T cell population and its functional abnormality directly leads to the development of autoimmune disease.

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