We studied T-cell clones generated from grafts of rejecting and tolerant animals and investigated the regulatory function of Th2 clones in vitro and in vivo. To prevent allograft rejection, we treated LEW strain recipient rats of WF strain kidney grafts with CTLA4Ig to block CD28-B7 costimulation. We then isolated epitope-specific T-cell clones from the engrafted tissue, using a donor-derived immunodominant class II MHC allopeptide presented by recipient antigen-presenting cells. Acutely rejected tissue from untreated animals yielded self-restricted, allopeptide-specific T-cell clones that produced IFN-γ, whereas clones from tolerant animals produced IL-4 and IL-10. Adoptive transfer into naive recipients of Th1 clones, but not Th2 clones, induced alloantigen-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses. In addition, Th2 clones suppressed DTH responses mediated by Th1 clones in vivo and blocked Th1 cell proliferation and IFN-γ production in vitro. A pilot human study showed that HLA-DR allopeptide-specific T-cell clones generated from patients with chronic rejection secrete Th1 cytokines, whereas those from patients with stable graft function produce Th2 cytokines in response to donor-specific HLA-DR allopeptides. We suggest that self-restricted alloantigen-specific Th2 clones may regulate the alloimmune responses and promote long-term allograft survival and tolerance.
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