Efficient Induction of CD25(-) iTreg by Co-Immunization Requires Strongly Antigenic Epitopes for T Cells
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Background: We previously showed that co-immunization with a protein antigen and a DNA vaccine coding for the same antigen induces CD40(low) IL-10(high) tolerogenic DCs, which in turn stimulates the expansion of antigenspecific CD4(+)CD25(-)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (CD25(-) iTreg). However, it was unclear how to choose the antigen sequence to maximize tolerogenic antigen presentation and, consequently, CD25(-) iTreg induction. Results: In the present study, we demonstrated the requirement of highly antigenic epitopes for CD25(-) iTreg induction. Firstly, we showed that the induction of CD25(-) iTreg by tolerogenic DC can be blocked by anti-MHC-II antibody. Next, both the number and the suppressive activity of CD25(-) iTreg correlated positively with the overt antigenicity of an epitope to activate T cells. Finally, in a mouse model of dermatitis, highly antigenic epitopes derived from a flea allergen not only induced more CD25(-) iTreg, but also more effectively prevented allergenic reaction to the allergen than did weakly antigenic epitopes. Conclusions: Our data thus indicate that efficient induction of CD25- iTreg requires highly antigenic peptide epitopes. This finding suggests that highly antigenic epitopes should be used for efficient induction of CD25- iTreg for clinical applications such as flea allergic dermatitis.