Background & Aims: Patients with celiac disease have permanent intolerance to gluten. Because of the high frequency of this disorder (approximately 1 in 100 individuals), we investigated whether oral tolerance to gluten differs from that to other food proteins. Methods: Using transgenic mice that express human HLA-DQ2 and a gliadin-specific, humanized T-cell receptor, we compared gluten-specific T-cell responses with tolerogenic mucosal T-cell responses to the model food protein ovalbumin. Results: Consistent with previous findings, the ovalbumin-specific response occurred in the mesenteric lymph nodes and induced Foxp3+regulatory T cells. In contrast, ingestion of deamidated gliadin induced T-cell proliferation predominantly in the spleen but little in mesenteric lymph nodes. The gliadin-reactive T cells had an effector-like phenotype and secreted large amounts of interferon gamma but also secreted interleukin-10. Despite their effector-like phenotype, gliadin-reactive T cells had regulatory functions, because transfer of the cells suppressed a gliadin-induced, delayed-type hypersensitivity response. Conclusions: Ingestion of deamidated gliadin induces differentiation of tolerogenic, type 1 regulatory T cells in spleens of HLA-DQ2 transgenic mice. These data indicate that under homeostatic conditions, the T-cell response to deamidated gliadin is tolerance, which is not conditioned by the mucosal immune system but instead requires interleukin-10 induction by antigen presentation in the spleen.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

du Pré, F., Kozijn, A., van Berkel, L., Ter Borg, M. N. D., Lindenberghkortleve, D., Jensen, L. T., … Samsom, J. (2011). Tolerance to ingested deamidated gliadin in mice is maintained by splenic, type 1 regulatory T cells. Gastroenterology, 141(2). doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2011.04.048