Route of Antigen Presentation Can Determine the Selection of Foxp3-Dependent or Foxp3-Independent Dominant Immune Tolerance [IMMUNE REGULATION]

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It has been shown that dominant tolerance, namely in transplantation, requires Foxp3+ regulatory T cells. Although most tolerance-inducing regimens rely on regulatory T cells, we found that induction of tolerance to proteins in aluminum hydroxide can be achieved in Foxp3-deficient mice using nondepleting anti-CD4 Abs. This type of tolerance is Ag specific, and tolerant mice retain immune competence to respond to unrelated Ags. We demonstrated with chicken OVA–specific TCR-transgenic mice that the same tolerizing protocol (CD4 blockade) and the same target Ag (OVA) achieves Foxp3-dependent transplantation tolerance to OVA-expressing skin grafts, but Foxp3-independent tolerance when the Ag is provided as OVA–aluminum hydroxide. In the latter case, we found that tolerance induction triggered recessive mechanisms leading to elimination of effector cells and, simultaneously, a dominant mechanism associated with the emergence of an anergic and regulatory CTLA-4+IL-2lowFoxp3 T cell population, where the tolerance state is IL-10 dependent. Such Foxp3-independent mechanisms can improve the efficacy of tolerance-inducing protocols.

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