Very low-dose tolerance with nucleosomal peptides controls lupus and induces potent regulatory T cell subsets

Hee Kap Kang, Marissa A. Michaels, Beate R. Berner, Syamal K. Datta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


We induced very low-dose tolerance by injecting lupus prone (SWR × NZB)F1 (SNF1) mice with 1 μg nucleosomal histone peptide autoepitopes s.c. every 2 wk. The subnanomolar peptide therapy diminished autoantibody levels and prolonged life span by delaying nephritis, especially by reducing inflammatory cell reaction and infiltration in kidneys. H4 71-94 was the most effective autoepitope. Low-dose tolerance therapy induced CD8+, as well as CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cell subsets containing autoantigen-specific cells. These adaptive Treg cells suppressed IFN-γ responses of pathogenic lupus T cells to nucleosomal epitopes at up to a 1:100 ratio and reduced autoantibody production up to 90-100% by inhibiting nucleosome-stimulated T cell help to nuclear autoantigen-specific B cells. Both CD4+CD25 + and CD8+ Treg cells produced and required TGF-β1 for immunosuppression, and were effective in suppressing lupus autoimmunity upon adoptive transfer in vivo. The CD4+CD25+ T cells were partially cell contact dependent, but CD8+ T cells were contact independent. Thus, low-dose tolerance with highly conserved histone autoepitopes repairs a regulatory defect in systemic lupus erythematosus by generating long-lasting, TGF-β-producing Treg cells, without causing allergic/anaphylactic reactions or generalized immunosuppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3247-3255
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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