CD4+CD25+ T cells inhibit both the induction and effector function of autoreactive T cells and represent a unique lineage of immunoregulatory cells.J Immunol 1998; 160(3):1212-8JI
Thymectomy of susceptible strains of mice on day 3 of life results in a spectrum of organ-specific autoimmunity that can be prevented by reconstitution of the thymectomized animals early in life with normal adult lymphocytes. The effectors and suppressors of autoimmunity in this model have been convincingly shown to be CD4+ T cells. It has been demonstrated recently that the regulatory CD4+ T cells that prevent disease coexpress CD25. We have further characterized the population of CD4+CD25+ immunoregulatory cells and demonstrated that they can suppress not only the induction of disease post-thymectomy, but can also efficiently suppress disease induced by cloned autoantigen-specific effector cells. Furthermore, the CD4+CD25+ T cells appear to be members of a unique lineage of regulatory T cells, as the induction of CD25 expression on a monospecific population of T cells derived from TCR transgenic SCID mice did not result in suppression of post-thymectomy autoimmunity. In addition, the TCR transgenic SCID mice were highly susceptible to autoimmune disease induced by the cloned line of autoantigen-specific effectors, while normal mice were relatively resistant. The capacity of the cloned line to transfer disease to nu/nu recipients could be inhibited by normal spleen cell populations containing CD4+CD25+ cells and by purified CD4+CD25+ cells. Although the target Ag(s) and mechanism of action of the CD4+CD25+ T cells remain to be determined, it is likely that they also play an important role in modulating other autoimmune diseases that are mediated by activation of "ignorant" self-reactive T cells present in the normal peripheral lymphocyte pool.