Programmed cell death and extrathymic reduction of Vbeta8+ CD4+ T cells in mice tolerant to Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin B

Nature. 1991 Jan 17;349(6306):245-8. doi: 10.1038/349245a0.


Clonal deletion and functional inactivation of self-reactive cells have been invoked as mechanisms underlying intrathymic development of T-cell tolerance. The relative importance of these mechanisms in the development of tolerance of more mature, peripheral T cells either to self or to exogenous antigens is unclear, although recent data relate the development of T-cell tolerance in the periphery to clonal anergy. We have now investigated the induction of extrathymic tolerance using BALB/c mice that were made tolerant to Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin B, a superantigen which specifically interacts in such mice with T cells bearing V beta 8 antigen receptors. Both euthymic and athymic mice made tolerant to S. aureus enterotoxin B had a markedly reduced number of V beta 8.1,2+ CD4+ peripheral T cells. This reduction was accompanied by genomic DNA fragmentation that is associated with cell death. These results indicate that a deletional mechanism can contribute to the induction of T-cell tolerance in peripheral lymphoid cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / analysis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genomic Library
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology*
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / physiology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Spleen / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Enterotoxins
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal
  • DNA