Maternal alloantigens promote the development of tolerogenic fetal regulatory T cells in utero

Jeff E. Mold, Jakob Michaëlsson, Trevor D. Burt, Marcus O. Muench, Karen P. Beckerman, Michael P. Busch, Tzong Hae Lee, Douglas F. Nixon, Joseph M. McCune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

679 Scopus citations

Abstract

As the immune system develops, T cells are selected or regulated to become tolerant of self antigens and reactive against foreign antigens. In mice, the induction of such tolerance is thought to be attributable to the deletion of self-reactive cells. Here, we show that the human fetal immune system takes advantage of an additional mechanism: the generation of regulatory T cells (Tregs) that suppress fetal immune responses. We find that substantial numbers of maternal cells cross the placenta to reside in fetal lymph nodes, inducing the development of CD4+CD25highFoxP3+ T regs that suppress fetal antimaternal immunity and persist at least until early adulthood. These findings reveal a form of antigen-specific tolerance in humans, induced in utero and probably active in regulating immune responses after birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1562-1565
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume322
Issue number5907
DOIs
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

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