Infectious nickel tolerance: A reciprocal interplay of tolerogenic APCs and T suppressor cells that is driven by immunization

Karin Roelofs-Haarhuis, Xianzhu Wu, Michael Nowak, Min Fang, Suzan Artik, Ernst Gleichmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Previously, we reported that tolerance to nickel, induced by oral administration of Ni2+ ions, can be adoptively transferred to naive mice with only 102 splenic T cells. Here we show that 102 T cell-depleted spleen cells (i.e., APCs) from orally tolerized donors can also transfer nickel tolerance. This cannot be explained by simple passive transfer of the tolerogen. The APCs from orally tolerized donors displayed a reduced allostimulatory capacity, a tolerogenic phenotype, and an increased expression of CD38 on B cells. In fact, it was B cells among the APCs that carried the thrust of tolerogenicity. Through serial adoptive transfers with Ly5.1 + donors and two successive sets of Ly5.2+ recipients, we demonstrated that nickel tolerance was infectiously spread from donor to host cells. After the transfer of either T cells or APCs from orally tolerized donors, the spread of tolerance to the opposite cell type of the recipients (i.e., APCs and T cells, respectively) required recipient immunization with NiCl2/H2O2. For the spread of tolerance from a given donor cell type, T cell or APC, to the homologous host cell type, the respective opposite cell type in the host was required as intermediate. We conclude that T suppressor cells and tolerogenic APCs induced by oral administration of nickel are part of a positive feedback loop that can enhance and maintain tolerance when activated by Ag associated with a danger signal. Under these conditions, APCs and T suppressor effector cells infectiously spread the tolerance to naive T cells and APCs, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2863-2872
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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