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Activated CD4 Th2 cells release cytokines (IL-4,-10) that block activation & cytokine (IL-2/IFN-[beta]) release by proinflammatory T (CD4 ,CD8 ) effector cells. To test the hypothesis that peripheral tolerance to alloantigen is linked to differential activation of CD4 Th2 cells we measured cytokine transcripts in heart grafts (C57BL/10 /- C3H/HeJ) and spleens of mice rendered "tolerant" by donor-specific blood transfusion, anti-CD4 mAb pre-treatment, and cyclosporine administration. The expression of IL-2/IFN-[beta] transcripts was reduced >90% in grafts from tolerant recipients. IL-4/IL-10 transcripts were generally enhanced and persisted in graft and recipient spleen. Accordingly adoptive transfer studies were performed to determine whether Th2-like effectors, which express Fc receptors (FcR), mediate suppression in this model. Unfractionated mononuclear cells (MC) (5x106), isolated from spleens of heart graft recipients made tolerant by DST, prolonged the survival of test grafts >90 days in irradiated (680 rads) recipients reconstituted with a sufficient number of MC from spleens of naive C3H to precipitate rejection of the test graft in 18.2 days (MST, n=5). Conversely adoptive transfer of inocula depleted of FcR cells on immune complex columns or with anti-FcR mAb 24G2 caused test grafts to be rejected in 8-11 days. These results suggest that peripheral tolerance to alloantigen may be linked to differential activation of Th2 cells that induce anergy by suppression. The possibility that Th2-like effectors mediate peripheral tolerance to self is discussed.

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