Peripheral tolerance mechanisms prevent the development of autoreactive T cells in chimeras grafted with two minor incompatible thymuses.
Zamoyska R., Waldmann H., Matzinger P.
The thymus has been shown to play an important role in the generation of T cell tolerance to self antigens. Developing T cells are readily tolerized to antigens which are expressed in the thymus, and it is generally thought that such thymic tolerance occurs by a mechanism of clonal deletion. We sought to examine whether T cells which initially encountered a "self antigen" post-thymically would be rendered tolerant of that antigen, and if so whether the mechanism of tolerance induction would differ from that found for thymic antigens. We constructed bone marrow radiation chimeras which were grafted with two thymus lobes differing in minor histocompatibility antigens. T cells which matured in one thymus would be tolerized to the minor histocompatibility antigens expressed in that thymus but would not encounter, and would therefore have no early opportunity of being tolerized to the minor histocompatibility antigens expressed by the other thymus. The initial encounter with the minor antigens on the second thymus would occur post-thymically. Would these T cells be tolerant or responsive to those minor histocompatibility antigens? We found that tolerance was dominant in these chimeras. The data further suggest that the mechanism responsible for tolerance induction in the periphery may differ from that which operates in the thymus.