Research ArticleAutoimmunity

In Vivo–Generated Antigen-Specific Regulatory T Cells Treat Autoimmunity Without Compromising Antibacterial Immune Response

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Science Translational Medicine  18 Jun 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 241, pp. 241ra78
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008895

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Rebuilding Immunity

Sometimes for a sports team to pull out of a slump, they need to rebuild—trade the more experienced players, however good, and start over with a fresh group of youngsters. Kasagi et al. now use the same approach to restore tolerance in mice with established autoimmune disease. They induced apoptosis of immune cells in mice with either experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis or nonobese diabetes. The authors then introduced autoantigenic peptides, which resulted in antigen-specific regulatory T cell differentiation in vivo. These cells suppressed the autoimmune response without affecting the immune response to a bacterial antigen. They found that the apoptotic cells induced phagocytes to produce transforming growth factor–β, which was critical for the induction of the antigen-specific regulatory T cells. If these data hold true in humans, this may be a champion approach for treating autoimmunity.