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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 13, Issue 2-4, Pages 143-157
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17402520600876804

Oral Tolerance: Therapeutic Implications for Autoimmune Diseases

1Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
2Harvard Medical School, Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Oral tolerance is classically defined as the suppression of immune responses to antigens (Ag) that have been administered previously by the oral route. Multiple mechanisms of tolerance are induced by oral Ag. Low doses favor active suppression, whereas higher doses favor clonal anergy/deletion. Oral Ag induces Th2 (IL-4/IL-10) and Th3 (TGF-β) regulatory T cells (Tregs) plus CD4+CD25+ regulatory cells and LAP+T cells. Induction of oral tolerance is enhanced by IL-4, IL-10, anti-IL-12, TGF-β, cholera toxin B subunit (CTB), Flt-3 ligand, anti-CD40 ligand and continuous feeding of Ag. In addition to oral tolerance, nasal tolerance has also been shown to be effective in suppressing inflammatory conditions with the advantage of a lower dose requirement. Oral and nasal tolerance suppress several animal models of autoimmune diseases including experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), uveitis, thyroiditis, myasthenia, arthritis and diabetes in the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse, plus non-autoimmune diseases such as asthma, atherosclerosis, colitis and stroke. Oral tolerance has been tested in human autoimmune diseases including MS, arthritis, uveitis and diabetes and in allergy, contact sensitivity to DNCB, nickel allergy. Positive results have been observed in phase II trials and new trials for arthritis, MS and diabetes are underway. Mucosal tolerance is an attractive approach for treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases because of lack of toxicity, ease of administration over time and Ag-specific mechanism of action. The successful application of oral tolerance for the treatment of human diseases will depend on dose, developing immune markers to assess immunologic effects, route (nasal versus oral), formulation, mucosal adjuvants, combination therapy and early therapy.