Epicutaneous immunization with autoantigenic peptides induces T suppressor cells that prevent experimental allergic encephalomyelitis

Immunity. 2003 Sep;19(3):317-28. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(03)00239-5.


Information on how suppressor/regulatory T cells can be generated directly in vivo and prevent autoimmunity remains fragmentary. We show here that epicutaneous immunization (ECi) with the immunodominant peptide of myelin basic protein (MBP), Ac1-11, protects mice that are transgenic for an Ac1-11-specific T cell receptor against both the induced and spontaneous forms of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). This protection was antigen specific and antigen dose dependent, and was mediated by CD4(+)/CD25(-) T cells whose suppressive activity required cell-cell contact and could transfer protection to naive recipients. These ECi-induced suppressor T cells controlled naive MBP-specific CD4 T cells by inhibiting both their activation and their capacity to secrete IFN-gamma. There was no CD4 T cell infiltration in the brain of protected mice. Finally, ECi with autoantigenic peptides protected two nontransgenic models from relapsing-remitting EAE in an antigen-specific and antigen dose-dependent manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantigens / administration & dosage
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Vaccination*


  • Autoantigens
  • Cytokines
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2
  • Interferon-gamma