Lymphopenia-induced proliferation is a potent activator for CD4+ T cell-mediated autoimmune disease in the retina

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To study retinal immunity in a defined system, a CD4+ TCR transgenic mouse line (βgalTCR) specific for β-galactosidase (βgal) was created and used with transgenic mice that expressed βgal in retinal photoreceptor cells (arrβgal mice). Adoptive transfer of resting βgalTCR T cells, whether naive or Ag-experienced, into arrβgal mice did not induce retinal autoimmune disease (experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis, EAU) and gave no evidence of Ag recognition. Generation of βgalTCR T cells in arrβgal mice by use of bone marrow grafts, or double-transgenic mice, also gave no retinal disease or signs of Ag recognition. Arrβgal mice were also resistant to EAU induction by adoptive transfer of in vitro-activated βgalTCR T cells, even though the T cells were pathogenic if the βgal was expressed elsewhere. In vitro manipulations to increase T cell pathogenicity before transfer did not result in EAU. The only strategy that induced a high frequency of severe EAU was transfer of naive, CD25-depleted, βgalTCR T cells into lymphopenic arrβgal recipients, implicating regulatory T cells in the T cell inoculum, as well as in the recipients, in the resistance to EAU. Surprisingly, activation of the CD25-depleted βgalTCR T cells before transfer into the lymphopenic recipients reduced EAU. Taken together, the results suggest that endogenous regulatory mechanisms, as well as peripheral induction of regulatory T cells, play a role in the protection from EAU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-979
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2009


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