Peptides encompassing T cell epitopes represent promising tools for manipulating immune regulation in autoimmune diseases, such as lupus. Examples in other experimental models of autoimmunity (e.g. in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, experimental myasthenia gravis or diabetic NOD mice) also show spectacular protective effects. It is possible that for long-term therapeutic applications it will be necessary to combine several independent strategies, which can be introduced simultaneously or sequentially. These strategies could target T cells but also B cells, CD8+ suppressor cells and regulatory T and B cells. The results obtained in different laboratories are quite encouraging and a number of T cell-specific agents with clinical potential have recently emerged (Isenberg and Rahman 2006; Kaul et al. 2006; Liu et al. 2007). The P140 peptide—which interferes with intra and intermolecular epitope spreading in MRL/lpr mice and consequently interrupts, at least transiently, the spiral of events leading to antibody production and tissue inflammation— represents a potential candidate that deserves most attention. Since in addition we have shown that P140 therapy does not alter immune response against a viral challenge (Monneaux et al. submitted), it might constitute the basis of a specific and safe immunointervention strategy in lupus.
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