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Depletion of CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T cells confers susceptibility to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in GM-CSF-deficient Csf2-/- mice

Ghosh, D;Curtis, AD;Wilkinson, DS;Mannie, MD;

Previous studies established that GM-CSF-deficient (Csf2-deficient) mice exhibit profound resistance to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. This study addressed whether the resistance of Csf2-deficient mice was a result of a requirement for GM-CSF in controlling the functional balance between effector and regulatory T cell subsets during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The main observation was that treatment with the anti-CD25 mAb PC61 rendered Csf2-deficient mice fully susceptible to severe, chronic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, with disease incidences and severities equivalent to that of C57BL/6 mice. When both donors and recipients were treated with PC61 in a passive model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, adoptive transfer of myelin-specific Csf2-deficient T cells into Csf2-deficient recipients resulted in a nonresolving chronic course of severe paralytic experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The peripheral Csf2-deficient T cell repertoire was marked by elevated CD3(+) T cell frequencies that reflected substantial accumulations of nave CD44(null-low) CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells but essentially normal frequencies of CD4(+) CD25(+) forkhead box P3(+) T cells among the CD3(+) T cell pool. These findings suggested that Csf2-deficient mice had secondary deficiencies in peripheral T cell sensitization to environmental antigens. In accordance, myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55/CFA-sensitized Csf2-deficient mice exhibited deficient peripheral sensitization to myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, whereas pretreatment of Csf2-deficient mice with PC61 enabled the robust induction of myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-specific T cell responses in the draining lymphatics. In conclusion, the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis resistance of Csf2-deficient mice, at least in part, reflects a deficient induction of effector T cell function that cannot surmount normal regulatory T cell barriers. Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis effector responses, however, are unleashed upon depletion of regulatory CD25(+) T cells.