Trends Immunol 2003 Feb;24(2):77-81
Goldschneider I, Cone RE.
Dept of Pathology, School of Medicine, The University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, 06030-3105,., Farmington, CT, USA
Despite extensive negative selection in the thymus, numerous clones of self-reactive T cells are normally exported to the periphery.
In most instances, autoimmunity is prevented by regulatory T (Tr) cells, many of which are also of recent thymic origin.
We have demonstrated recently that natural killer (NK) Tr thymocytes (THYr) can be induced by the injection of antigen into the eye, an immunologically privileged site; and that the intravenous infusion of antigen-presenting cells (APCs) from such animals also induces NKT THYr.
Furthermore, we have also observed that some of these APCs migrate to the thymus as CD11c(+) dendritic cells (DCs).
Other authors have correlated the migration of DCs to the thymus with the generation of CD4(+)CD25(+) THYr.
We therefore propose a novel tolerance induction pathway by which tolerogenic DCs routinely transport antigen (both self and nonself) from the periphery to the thymus, where they positively select THYr.
We also propose that the ability of tolerogenic DCs to induce acquired thymic tolerance on demand might have important implications for the immunotherapy of autoimmunity and allotransplantation.