Mechanisms underlying blockade of allograft acceptance by TLR ligands

Paige M. Porrett, Xueli Yuan, David F. LaRosa, Patrick T. Walsh, Jaeseok Yang, Wenda Gao, Peiying Li, Jidong Zhang, Javeed M. Ansari, Wayne W. Hancock, Mohamed H. Sayegh, Maria Koulmanda, Terry B. Strom, Laurence A. Turka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Immune activation via TLRs is known to prevent transplantation tolerance in multiple animal models. To investigate the mechanisms underlying this barrier to tolerance induction, we used complementary murine models of skin and cardiac transplantation in which prolonged allograft acceptance is either spontaneous or pharmacologically induced with anti-CD154 mAb and rapamycin. In each model, we found that prolonged allograft survival requires the presence of natural CD4+Foxp3+ T regulatory cells (Tregs), and that the TLR9 ligand CpG prevents graft acceptance both by interfering with natural Treg function and by promoting the differentiation of Th1 effector T cells in vivo. We further demonstrate that although Th17 cells differentiate from naive alloreactive T cells, these cells do not arise from natural Tregs in either CpG-treated or untreated graft recipients. Finally, we show that CpG impairs natural Treg suppressor capability and prevents Treg-dependent allograft acceptance in an IL-6-independent fashion. Our data therefore suggest that TLR signals do not prevent prolonged graft acceptance by directing natural Tregs into the Th17 lineage or by using other IL-6-dependent mechanisms. Instead, graft destruction results from the ability of CpG to drive Th1 differentiation and interfere with immunoregulation established by alloreactive natural CD4 +Foxp3+ Tregs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1692-1699
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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