Cooperative Roles of CTLA-4 and Regulatory T Cells in Tolerance to an Islet Cell Antigen

Lucy Walker, M Eggena, V Nagabhushanam, L Barron, A Chodos, A Abbas

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Adoptive transfer of ovalbumin (OVA)-specific T cells from the DO.11 TCR transgenic mouse on a Rag(-/-) background into mice expressing OVA in pancreatic islet cells induces acute insulitis and diabetes only if endogenous lymphocytes, including regulatory T cells, are removed. When wild-type OVA-specific/Rag(-/-) T cells, which are all CD25(-), are transferred into islet antigen-expressing mice, peripheral immunization with OVA in adjuvant is needed to induce diabetes. In contrast, naive CTLA-4(-/-)/Rag(-/-) OVA-specific T cells (also CD25(-)) develop into Th1 effectors and induce disease upon recognition of the self-antigen alone. These results suggest that CTLA-4 functions to increase the activation threshold of autoreactive T cells, because in its absence self-antigen is sufficient to trigger autoimmunity without peripheral immunization. Further, CTLA-4 and regulatory T cells act cooperatively to maintain tolerance, indicating that the function of CTLA-4 is independent of regulatory cells, and deficiency of both is required to induce pathologic immune responses against the islet self-antigen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1725-30
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Experimental Medicine
Early online date14 Jun 2004
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2004


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