Dendritic Cell Apoptosis in the Maintenance of Immune Tolerance

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Science  24 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5764, pp. 1160-1164
DOI: 10.1126/science.1122545

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Apoptosis in the immune system is critical for maintaining self-tolerance and preventing autoimmunity. Nevertheless, inhibiting apoptosis in lymphocytes is not alone sufficient to break self-tolerance, suggesting the involvement of other cell types. We investigated whether apoptosis in dendritic cells (DCs) helps regulate self-tolerance by generating transgenic mice expressing the baculoviral caspase inhibitor, p35, in DCs (DC-p35). DC-p35 mice displayed defective DC apoptosis, resulting in their accumulation and, in turn, chronic lymphocyte activation and systemic autoimmune manifestations. The observation that a defect in DC apoptosis can independently lead to autoimmunity is consistent with a central role for these cells in maintaining immune self-tolerance.

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