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CD4+CD25+ T cells regulate the intensity of hypersensitivity responses to peanut, but are not decisive in the induction of oral sensitization


F. van Wijk, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, Pediatric immunology, Lundlaan 6, PO Box 85090, NL 3508 AB Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Background Naturally occurring CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a critical role in the maintenance of self-tolerance and it has been suggested that these Tregs may also be involved in preventing allergic disease.

Objective The precise role of CD4+CD25+ T cells in the regulation of allergic responses to mucosal antigens remains to be elucidated. In the present study, it was investigated whether CD4+CD25+ T cells are involved in the induction of oral tolerance and whether they play a role in controlling hypersensitivity responses to food proteins.

Methods CD4+CD25+ T cells were depleted with PC61 mAb before the induction of low dose oral tolerance to peanut extract (PE). In addition, CD4+CD25+ T cell depletion was performed during sensitization or before oral challenge, using a C3H/HeOuJ mouse model of allergic sensitization to peanut.

Results Oral tolerance to PE could not be induced in CD4+CD25+ T cell-depleted mice. However, CD4+CD25+ T cell depletion during long-term exposure to PE alone did not result in allergic sensitization. In sensitized mice, anti-CD25 treatment during oral exposure resulted in higher levels of PE-specific IgE and increased mast cell degranulation upon an oral challenge. In contrast, anti-CD25 treatment of PE-sensitized mice before oral challenges did not affect the level of mast cell degranulation.

Conclusion These results indicate that CD4+CD25+ Tregs are involved in maintaining tolerance to oral antigens and regulate the intensity of an IgE-mediated food hypersensitivity response, but are not crucial in preventing sensitization. Accordingly, CD4+CD25+ Tregs may represent a potential tool for the treatment of food allergic disorders.