Programmed death-1 (PD-1) promotes T cell tolerance. Despite therapeutically targeting this pathway for chronic infections and tumors, little is known about how different T cell subsets are affected during blockade. We examined PD-1/PD ligand 1 (PD-L1) regulation of self-antigen-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells in autoimmune-susceptible models. PD-L1 blockade increased insulin-specific effector CD4 T cells in type 1 diabetes. However, anergic islet-specific CD4 T cells were resistant to PD-L1 blockade. Additionally, PD-L1 was critical for induction, but not maintenance, of CD8 T cell intestinal tolerance. PD-L1 blockade enhanced functionality of effector T cells, whereas established tolerant or anergic T cells were not dependent on PD-1/PD-L1 signaling to remain unresponsive. This highlights the existence of Ag-experienced T cell subsets that do not rely on PD-1/PD-L1 regulation. These findings illustrate how positive treatment outcomes and autoimmunity development during PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition are linked to the differentiation state of a T cell.
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Copyright © 2015 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. 0022-1767/15/$25.00.