Intranasal administration of retinal antigens induces transient T cell activation and apoptosis within drainage lymph nodes but not spleen

J Autoimmun. 1999 May;12(3):145-55. doi: 10.1006/jaut.1998.0269.


Mechanisms of mucosal tolerance induction, including anergy/deletion and active suppression are frequently described as mutually exclusive; dependent upon nature, dose and route of antigen administration. We have previously described induction of low-dose tolerance with administration of retinal autoantigens via the nasorespiratory tract which is antigen-specific, suppresses both cell mediated immunity and ultimately tissue destruction in experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) and is mediated by splenic-derived regulatory cells. The present data further shows that splenocytes or fractionated splenic T cells, which secrete IL-4 and IL-10 when stimulated with retinal antigen in vitro, and not regional drainage lymph node cells transfer tolerance to naïve animals. Analysis of apparent mechanistic differences shows that during intranasal antigen administration, the proportion of CD4(+)T cells within drainage lymph nodes increases, concurrent with a burst of IFN-gamma. Following subsequent antigen challenge, T cells downregulate alphabetaTCR expression and undergo apoptosis in regional drainage lymph nodes. An increase in functional Th2 cytokine activity was noted in both Con-A and retinal antigen stimulated lymph node cultures in tolerized animals. T cells from tolerized animals secreted IL-4, whereas IL-10 was secreted predominantly by the non-T cell population present equally in control and tolerized animals. Therefore, spleen derived regulatory cells which suppress Th1 responses and T cell deletion/apoptosis in regional drainage lymph nodes are mechanisms which co-exist in tolerant rats. Th2 cytokine production after immunization appears consequential to tolerance-induced Th1 suppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Autoantigens / administration & dosage
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Retina / immunology*
  • Retinitis / immunology*
  • Spleen / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Uveitis / immunology*


  • Autoantigens
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Interferon-gamma