Oral tolerance is being promoted as a therapy for autoimmune diseases and therefore will need to be functional in a primed immune system. In previous studies, we found that although primed mice could be tolerized by feeding ovalbumin (OVA), the degree of the tolerance and its effects on individual components of the systemic immune response were more limited than that found in naive animals. Here we increased the dose and frequency of antigen feeding in an attempt to extend the effects of oral tolerance in primed mice and to understand why its effects are limited under these conditions. Increasing the amounts of OVA fed, up to a single dose of 400 mg, or using multiple feeds of 5 x 5 or 5 x 25 mg OVA, did not radically alter the extent of tolerance, with DTH responses, antigen-specific proliferation, and IL5 and IFN-gamma production still being tolerized, but antibody responses remaining generally resistant. The deficient tolerance in primed mice could not be overcome by waiting for maximum clonal expansion to wane and was not influenced by persistent release of antigen from a depot adjuvant. We conclude that the resistance of primed mice to oral tolerance may be due to the fact that antigen-experienced T cells may be inherently resistant to induction of tolerance, or that the microenvironment of the primed immune system inhibits the delivery of tolerogenic signals to antigen-specific T cells.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.