Indexed on: 09 May '08Published on: 09 May '08Published in: Immunology
We studied the tolerization of neonatal thymocytes (NT), neonatal splenocytes (NS) and adult thymocytes (AT), transferred to syngeneic nude (nu/nu) hosts previously injected with semi-allogeneic splenocytes, without any supportive immunosuppressive treatment. This protocol allows the study of peripheral tolerance in the absence of the thymus. BALB/c neonatal T cells and ATs were able to expand in syngeneic BALB/c nu/nu mice and functionally reconstituted an allogeneic response, rejecting (BALB/c x B6.Ba) F1 splenocytes transferred 3-4 weeks after injection of BALB/c cells. However, if (BALB/c x B6.Ba) F1 cells were injected into BALB/c nude hosts 30 days before transfer of NT, NS or AT cells, the F1 population was preserved and specific tolerance to B6 allografts was established. Furthermore, transfer to lymphopenic F1 nu/nu showed that tolerance could be established only for neonatal populations, showing that unique properties of neonatal T cells allow their tolerization in both lymphopenic and non-lymphopenic conditions, in the absence of suppressive immunotherapy. These results bring empirical support to the possibility of T-cell engraftment in immunodeficient patients showing partial identity with donor major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes; the manipulation of immunological maturity of donor T cells may be the key for successful reconstitution of immunocompetence without induction of graft-versus-host disease.