Mature mainstream TCR alpha beta+CD4+ thymocytes expressing L-selectin mediate "active tolerance" in the nonobese diabetic mouse.J Immunol. 1998 Sep 01; 161(5):2620-8.JI
Pathogenic autoreactive T lymphocytes are mediators of spontaneous insulin-dependent diabetes in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. This is demonstrated by their capacity to transfer diabetes into syngeneic immunoincompetent recipients. In addition, especially in prediabetic NOD mice, peripheral CD4+ T lymphocytes were identified that are highly effective, in conventional mixing cotransfer experiments, at preventing disease transfer. The present data demonstrate that mature heat-stable Ag-TCR alpha beta+CD8-thymocytes from prediabetic NOD mice also express this inhibitory capacity. Selection using an L-selectin (CD62L)-specific Ab showed that TCR alpha/beta+CD4+CD62L+ thymocytes, emerging from the mainstream differentiation pathway, concentrate this ability to regulate autoreactive effectors. Compared with mature TCR alpha beta+CD8- thymocytes, significantly lower numbers of TCR alpha beta+CD4+CD62L+ were sufficient to achieve an efficient inhibition of disease transfer into NOD-scid recipients. This protective ability was potentiated following in vitro culture in the presence of IL-7. In contrast, TCR alpha beta+CD62L- thymocytes, highly enriched in class I-restricted NK T cells, were unable to influence diabetes transfer. Identical results were obtained using thymocytes that have been cultured in vitro for 4 days in the presence of IL-7. These results support the active role in NOD mice of a thymus-derived CD4+ subset that controls peripheral pathogenic autoimmune effectors.