Research highlight

Tolerance inducer

Nature Immunology

August 1, 2011

The enzyme IDO, which is known to play an immunosuppressive role in a variety of physio-pathologic conditions, including pregnancy, infection, allergy, and tumours, has been found to have an additional non-enzymatic function as a mediator of immune tolerance. The finding, reported online in Nature Immunology, clarifies the role of IDO as an inducer of long-term tolerance, such as maternal versus fetal tolerance during pregnancy, which was not completely explained by its enzymatic function.

Rapid induction of IDO by the immune mediator interferon-gamma and subsequent amino acid starvation in dendritic cells and effector T cells is known to avoid potentially harmful inflammatory responses in the host during microbial infection. Ursula Grohmann and colleagues show that in response to TGF-beta, another soluble immune mediator, IDO functions as a signaling protein to amplify feed-forward loops that maintain its own production and induce a long lasting tolerance-inducing phenotype in dendritic cells.

doi: 10.1038/ni.2077

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