CD4+ T Cells Prevent Skin Autoimmunity During Chronic Autologous Graft-Versus-Host-Disease


*Corresponding author: Hequet Olivier,


CD4 regulatory cells have been postulated to prevent autologous graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD). In order to test this hypothesis, we used BALB/c mice, a strain known to be resistant to autologous GVHD, which had received autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) and cyclosporine A (CsA). As expected, ASCT/CsA-treated BALB/c mice did not develop any sign of acute or chronic GVHD. However, depletion of CD4 T cells induced a skin disease with clinical and histological features of alopecia areata (AA), a CD8 T-cell-mediated human autoimmune skin disease. The hair loss in mice developing AA was associated with the infiltration of the skin by activated CD8 T cells. Analysis of the T-cell recovery in ASCT- and ASCT/CsA-treated mice showed that CsA induced an increase in the number of CD4+ 25+ T cells, suggesting that the lack of GVHD in ASCT/CsA treated-mice could be related to the expansion of this CD4 T-cell subset. Collectively these data show that CD4 T cells comprise regulatory cells controlling the onset of autologous GVHD and suggest that the naturally occurring CD4+ 25+ subset may be responsible for this effect.