Tolerance to apoptotic cells is regulated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase

Buvana Ravishankar, Haiyun Liu, Rahul Shinde, Phillip Chandler, Babak Baban, Masato Tanaka, David H. Munn, Andrew L. Mellor, Mikael C I Karlsson, Tracy L. McGaha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Tolerance to self-antigens present in apoptotic cells is critical to maintain immune-homeostasis and prevent systemic autoimmunity. However, mechanisms that sustain self-tolerance are poorly understood. Here we show that systemic administration of apoptotic cells to mice induced splenic expression of the tryptophan catabolizing enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). IDO expression was confined to the splenic marginal zone and was abrogated by depletion of CD169 + cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of IDO skewed the immune response to apoptotic cells, resulting in increased proinflammatory cytokine production and increased effector T-cell responses toward apoptotic cell-associated antigens. Presymptomatic lupus-prone MRL lpr/lpr mice exhibited abnormal elevated IDO expression in the marginal zone and red pulp and inhibition of IDO markedly accelerated disease progression. Moreover, chronic exposure of IDO-deficient mice to apoptotic cells induced a lupus-like disease with serum autoreactivity to double-stranded DNA associated with renal pathology and increased mortality. Thus, IDO limits innate and adaptive immunity to apoptotic self-antigens and IDO-mediated regulation inhibits inflammatory pathology caused by systemic autoimmune disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3909-3914
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 6 2012


  • Inflammation
  • Macrophage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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