Organ-resident, nonlymphoid cells suppress proliferation of autoimmune T-helper lymphocytes

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Science  28 Aug 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4818, pp. 1029-1032
DOI: 10.1126/science.2956685


Local presentation of autoantigen by organ-resident cells inappropriately expressing Ia determinants has been implicated in organ-specific autoimmunity. Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis, induced in rats by immunization with retinal soluble antigen, is used as a model of organ-specific autoimmunity. In an in vitro system derived from this model, uveitogenic rat T-helper lymphocytes specific to the retinal soluble antigen, or control T-helper lymphocytes reactive to the purified protein derivative of tuberculin, were cocultured with Ia-expressing syngeneic retinal glial cells (Muller cells) in the presence of specific antigen. Antigen presentation was not apparent under ordinary culture conditions, and the Muller cells profoundly suppressed the proliferative response of primed T-helper lymphocytes to antigen presented on conventional antigen-presenting cells, as well as their subsequent interleukin-2 (IL-2)-dependent expansion. Suppression of proliferation was accompanied by inhibition of IL-2 production in response to antigen, as well as by reduction in high-affinity IL-2 receptor expression, and proceeded via a contact-dependent mechanism. These results suggest a role for locally acting suppression mechanisms in immune regulation and maintenance of tissue homeostasis.

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