Immune responses in newborn mice are known to be biased toward the helper type 2 phenotype. This may account for their propensity to develop tolerance. Herein, we evaluated the effects of IL-4 deprivation on CD4+ T-cell activities elicited by neonatal exposure to allogeneic spleen cells. We showed that chimerism, Th2-type polarization and pathology, as well as skin allograft acceptance were inhibited in BALB/c mice immunized at birth with (A/J x BALB/c) F1 spleen cells uponin vivoIL-4 neutralization. While IL-4 neutralization inhibited the development of Th2 cells in this model, it led to the accumulation of IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-22, IL-6 and RORγt mRNA in the spleen or graft tissues. Moreover, IL-4 deprivation led to the differentiation of donor-specific Th17 cells with a concomitant Th1 response characterized by IFN-γ production. The Th17-type response emerging in IL-4-deprived mice was found to mediate both intragraft neutrophil infiltration and the abrogation of B-cell chimerism. Neutralization of this Th17 response failed however to restore functional skin graft acceptance. Collectively, our observations indicate that the neonatal Th2 response opposes the development of Th17 cells, and that Th17 cells are responsible for controlling lymphoid chimerism in mice neonatally injected with semiallogeneic cells.
Perinatal neutralization of IL-4 during exposure to semi-allogeneic spleen cells prevents neonatal transplantation tolerance, inhibits Th2-type polarized response and allows for the emergence of anti-donor Th17 cells that control B cell chimerism.