DnIKK2-Transfected Dendritic Cells Induce a Novel Population of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase–Expressing CD4+CD25− Cells with Tolerogenic Properties

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We previously documented that rat bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (DCs), transfected with an adenovirus encoding a dominant negative form of IKK2 (dnIKK2), have impaired allostimulatory capacity and generate CD4+ T cells with regulatory function. Here we investigate the potency, the phenotype, and the mechanism of action of dnIKK2-DC-induced regulatory cells and we evaluated their tolerogenic properties in vivo.


Brown Norway (BN) transfected dnIKK2-DCs were cultured with Lewis (LW) lymphocytes in primary mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR). CD4+ T cells were purified from primary MLR and incubated in secondary coculture MLR with LW lymphocytes. Phenotypic characterization was performed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and real-time polymerase chain reaction. The tolerogenic potential of CD4+ T cells pre-exposed to dnIKK2-DCs was evaluated in vivo in a model of kidney allotransplantation.


CD4+ T cells pre-exposed to dnIKK2-DCs were CD4+CD25−/dim and expressed interleukin (IL)-10, transforming growth factor-beta, interferon-gamma, IL-2, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). These cells (dnIKK2-Treg), cocultured (at up to 1:105 ratio) with a primary MLR, suppressed T-cell proliferation to alloantigens. The regulatory effect was cell-to-cell contact-independent since it was also observed in a transwell system. A nitric oxide synthase inhibitor significantly reverted dnIKK2-Treg-mediated suppression, whereas neutralizing antibodies to IL-10 and TGF-beta had no significant effect. DnIKK2-Treg given in vivo to LW rats prolonged the survival of a kidney allograft from BN rats (the donor rat strain used for generating DCs).


DnIKK2-Treg is a unique population of CD4+CD25− T cells expressing high levels of iNOS. These cells potently inhibit T-cell response in vitro and induce prolongation of kidney allograft survival in vivo.

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