T-cell anergy and peripheral T-cell tolerance. [Review] [115 refs]

R Lechler, J G Chai, F Marelli-Berg, G Lombardi

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    34 Citations (Scopus)


    The discovery that T-cell recognition of antigen can have distinct outcomes has advanced understanding of peripheral T-cell tolerance, and opened up new possibilities in immunotherapy. Anergy is one such outcome, and results from partial T-cell activation. This can arise either due to subtle alteration of the antigen, leading to a lower-affinity cognate interaction, or due to a lack of adequate co-stimulation. The signalling defects in anergic T cells are partially defined, and suggest that T-cell receptor (TCR) proximal, as well as downstream defects negatively regulate the anergic T cell's ability to be activated. Most importantly, the use of TCR-transgenic mice has provided compelling evidence that anergy is an in vivo phenomenon, and not merely an in vitro artefact. These findings raise the question as to whether anergic T cells have any biological function. Studies in rodents and in man suggest that anergic T cells acquire regulatory properties; the regulatory effects of anergic T cells require cell to cell contact, and appear to be mediated by inhibition of antigen-presenting cell immunogenicity. Close similarities exist between anergic T cells, and the recently defined CD4+ CD25+ population of spontaneously arising regulatory cells that serve to inhibit autoimmunity in mice. Taken together, these findings suggest that a spectrum of regulatory T cells exists. At one end of the spectrum are cells, such as anergic and CD4+ CD25+ T cells, which regulate via cell-to-cell contact. At the other end of the spectrum are cells which secrete antiinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 10 and transforming growth factor-beta. The challenge is to devise strategies that reliably induce T-cell anergy in vivo, as a means of inhibiting immunity to allo- and autoantigens. [References: 115]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)625 - 637
    Number of pages13
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1409
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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