CD4 T cell lineages are marked by the signature transcription factor each lineage expresses. For example, regulatory T cells (Tregs) are characterized by expression of FOXP3, which is either induced during thymic development for natural Tregs (nTregs), or in the periphery in the presence of TGFβ and retinoic acid for induced Tregs (iTreg). Interestingly, recent work has shown that the signature transcription factor for Th17 cells, RORγt, is also induced by TGFβ, thus linking the differentiation of the Treg and Th17 lineages. In the absence of a second signal from a proinflammatory cytokine, FOXP3 can inhibit RORγt function and drive Treg differentiation. However, when the cell also receives a signal from a proinflammation cytokine (e.g., IL-6), FOXP3 function is inhibited and the Th17 differentiation pathway is induced. Therefore, it is the balance between FOXP3 and RORγt function that determines CD4 T cell fate and the type of immune response that will be generated.
FOXP3; Regulatory T Cell; Th17
Regulatory T cells (Treg) that express the transcription factor Foxp3 are enriched within a broad range of murine and human solid tumors. The ontogeny of these Foxp3 Tregs - selective accumulation or proliferation of natural thymus-derived Treg (nTreg) or induced Treg (iTreg) converted in the periphery from naïve T cells - is not known. We used several strains of mice in which Foxp3 and EGFP are coordinately expressed to address this issue. We confirmed that Foxp3-positive CD4 T cells are enriched among tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and splenocytes (SPL) in B16 murine melanoma-bearing C57BL/6 Foxp3EGFP mice. OT-II Foxp3EGFP mice are essentially devoid of nTreg, having transgenic CD4 T cells that recognize a class II-restricted epitope derived from ovalbumin; Foxp3 expression could not be detected in TIL or SPL in these mice when implanted with ovalbumin-transfected B16 tumor (B16-OVA). Likewise, TIL isolated from B16 tumors implanted in Pmel-1 Foxp3EGFP mice, whose CD8 T cells recognize a class I-restricted gp100 epitope, were not induced to express Foxp3. All of these T cell populations - wild-type CD4, pmel CD8 and OTII CD4 - could be induced in vitro to express Foxp3 by engagement of their T cell receptor (TCR) and exposure to transforming growth factor β (TGFβ). B16 melanoma produces TGFβ and both pmel CD8 and OTII CD4 express TCR that should be engaged within B16 and B16-OVA respectively. Thus, CD8 and CD4 transgenic T cells in these animal models failed to undergo peripheral induction of Foxp3 in a tumor microenvironment.
Although both natural and induced regulatory T (nTreg and iTreg) cells can enforce tolerance, the mechanisms underlying their synergistic actions have not been established. We examined the functions of nTreg and iTreg cells by adoptive transfer immunotherapy of newborn Foxp3-deficient mice. As monotherapy, only nTreg cells prevented disease lethality, but did not suppress chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. Provision of Foxp3-sufficient conventional T cells with nTreg cells reconstituted the iTreg pool and established tolerance. In turn, acute depletion of iTreg cells in rescued mice resulted in weight loss and inflammation. Whereas the transcriptional signatures of nTreg and in vivo derived iTreg cells were closely matched, there was minimal overlap in their T cell receptor (TCR) repertoires. Thus, iTreg cells are an essential non-redundant regulatory subset that supplements nTreg cells, in part by expanding TCR diversity within regulatory responses.
The low number of natural regulatory T cells (nTreg cells) in the circulation specific for a particular antigen and concerns about the bystander suppressive capacity of expanded nTregs presents a major clinical challenge for nTreg-based therapeutic treatment of autoimmune diseases. In the present study, we demonstrate that naïve CD4+CD25-Foxp3- T cells specific for the myelin proteolipid protein (PLP)139-151 peptide, can be converted into CD25+Foxp3+ induced Treg cells (iTreg cells) when stimulated in the presence of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), retinoic acid and interleukin-2. These PLP139-151-specific iTreg cells (139-iTreg cells) have a phenotype similar to natural Treg cells, but additionally express an intermediate level of CD62L and a high level of CD103. Upon transfer into SJL/J mice, 139-iTreg cells undergo antigen-driven proliferation and are effective at suppressing induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis induced by the cognate PLP139-151 peptide, but not PLP178-191 or a mixture of the two peptides. Furthermore, 139-iTregs inhibit delayed-type-hypersensitivity (DTH) responses to PLP139-151, but not PLP178-191, MOG35-55 or OVA323-339 in mice primed with a mixture of PLP139-151 and the other respective peptides. Additionally, 139-iTreg cells suppress the proliferation and activation of PLP139-151-, but not MOG35-55-specific CD4+ T cells in SJL/B6 F1 mice primed with a combination of PLP139-151 and MOG35-55. These findings suggest that antigen-specific-iTreg cells are amplified in vivo when exposed to cognate antigen under inflammatory conditions, and these activated iTreg cells suppress CD4+ responder T cells in an antigen-specific manner.
Regulatory T cells (Treg) express the forkhead box p3 (Foxp3) transcription factor and suppress pathological immune responses against self and foreign antigens, including commensal microorganisms. Foxp3 has been proposed as a master key regulator for Treg, required for their differentiation, maintenance, and suppressive functions. Two types of Treg have been defined. Natural Treg (nTreg) are usually considered to be a separate sublineage arising during thymus differentiation. Induced Treg (iTreg) originate upon T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation in the presence of tumor growth factor β. Although under homeostatic conditions most Treg in the periphery are nTreg, special immune challenges in the intestine promote more frequently the generation of iTreg. Furthermore, recent observations have challenged the notion that Treg are a stable sublineage, and they suggest that, particularly under lymphopenic and/or inflammatory conditions, Treg may lose Foxp3 and/or acquire diverse effector functions, especially in the intestine, which may contribute to uncontrolled inflammation.
Foxp3+T regulatory cell (Treg) subsets play a crucial role in the maintenance of immune homeostasis against self-antigen. The lack or dysfunction of these cells is responsible for the pathogenesis and development of many autoimmune diseases. Therefore, manipulation of these cells may provide a novel therapeutic approach to treat autoimmune diseases and prevent allograft rejection during organ transplantation. In the article, we will provide current opinions concerning the classification, developmental and functional characterizations of Treg subsets. A particular emphasis will be focused on transforming cell growth factor beta (TGF-β) and its role in the differentiation and development of induced regulatory T cells (iTregs) in the periphery. Moreover, the similarity and disparity of iTregs and naturally occurring, thymus-derived CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (nTregs) will also be discussed. While proinflammatory cytokine IL-6 can convert nTregs to IL-17-producing cells, peripheral Tregs induced by TGF-β are resistant to this cytokine. This difference may affect the role of each in the adaptive immune response.
Immunoregulation; regulatory T cells; TGF-β; Foxp3; Th17 cells
Immune homeostasis is dependent on tight control over the size of a population of regulatory T (Treg) cells capable of suppressing over-exuberant immune responses. The Treg cell subset is comprised of cells that commit to the Treg lineage by upregulating the transcription factor Foxp3 either in the thymus (tTreg) or in the periphery (iTreg)1,2. Considering a central role for Foxp3 in Treg cell differentiation and function3,4, we proposed that conserved non-coding DNA sequence (CNS) elements at the Foxp3 locus encode information defining the size, composition and stability of the Treg cell population. Here we describe the function of three Foxp3 CNS elements (CNS1–3) in Treg cell fate determination in mice. The pioneer element CNS3, which acts to potently increase the frequency of Treg cells generated in the thymus and the periphery, binds c-Rel in in vitro assays. In contrast, CNS1, which contains a TGF-β–NFAT response element, is superfluous for tTreg cell differentiation, but has a prominent role in iTreg cell generation in gut-associated lymphoid tissues. CNS2, although dispensable for Foxp3 induction, is required for Foxp3 expression in the progeny of dividing Treg cells. Foxp3 binds to CNS2 in a Cbf-β–Runx1 and CpG DNA demethylation-dependent manner, suggesting that Foxp3 recruitment to this ‘cellular memory module’ facilitates the heritable maintenance of the active state of the Foxp3 locus and, therefore, Treg lineage stability. Together, our studies demonstrate that the composition, size and maintenance of the Treg cell population are controlled by Foxp3 CNS elements engaged in response to distinct cell-extrinsic or -intrinsic cues.
In addition to thymus-derived or natural T regulatory (nTreg) cells, a second subset of induced T regulatory (iTreg) cells arises de novo from conventional CD4+ T cells in the periphery. The function of iTreg cells in tolerance was examined in a CD45RBhighCD4+ T cell transfer model of colitis. In situ-generated iTreg cells were similar to nTreg cells in their capacity to suppress T cell proliferation in vitro and their absence in vivo accelerated bowel disease. Treatment with nTreg cells resolved the colitis, but only when iTreg cells were also present. Although iTreg cells required Foxp3 for suppressive activity and phenotypic stability, their gene expression profile was distinct from the established nTreg “genetic signature,” indicative of developmental and possibly mechanistic differences. These results identified a functional role for iTreg cells in vivo and demonstrated that both iTreg and nTreg cells can act in concert to maintain tolerance.
Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) has been shown to play an essential role in the suppression of inflammation, yet recent studies have revealed the positive roles of TGF-β in inflammatory responses. For example, TGF-β induces Foxp3-positive regulatory T cells (iTregs) in the presence of interleukin-2 (IL-2), while in the presence of IL-6, it induces pathogenic IL-17 producing Th17 cells. TGF-β inhibits the proliferation of immune cells as well as cytokine production via Foxp3-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Little is known about molecular mechanisms involved in immune suppression via TGF-β; however, Smad2/3 have been shown to play essential roles in Foxp3 induction as well as in IL-2 and IFN-γ suppression, whereas Th17 differentiation is promoted via the Smad-independent pathway. Interaction between TGF-β and other cytokine signaling is important in establishing the balance of immunity and tolerance.
Immunity; tolerance; signal transduction; smad; T cell
Mice deficient for the adaptor Ndfip1 develop inflammation at sites of environmental antigen exposure. We show here that these animals contain fewer inducible regulatory (iTreg) cells. In vitro, Ndfip1-deficient T cells express normal levels of the transcription factor Foxp3 during the first 48 hours of iTreg cell differentiation, however this cannot be sustained. Abortive Foxp3 expression is because Ndfip1–/– cells produce interleukin 4 (IL-4). We demonstrate that Ndfip1 is transiently unregulated during iTreg cell differentiation in a transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) dependent manner. Once expressed Ndfip1 promotes Itch-mediated degradation of the transcription factor JunB, thus preventing IL-4 production. Based on these data, we propose that TGF-β signaling induces Ndfip1 expression to silence IL-4 production, thus permitting iTreg cell differentiation.
Tumor specific antigens (TSA) provide an opportunity to mobilize therapeutic immune responses against cancer. To evade such responses, tumor development in immunocompetent hosts is accompanied by acquisition of both active and passive mechanisms of immune suppression, including recruitment of CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg). Thymic derived Treg (nTreg) may recognize self-antigens in the tumor microenvironment, while peripherally induced Treg (iTreg) may preferentially recognize the same TSA which provide an opportunity for therapeutic immunity from peripheral T cells. In this study we provide a systematic analysis of nTreg and iTreg accumulation in the tumor microenvironment (TME) at the cellular level. iTreg accumulation to the TME was influenced by the abundance of a known TSA, and in the absence of a known TSA intratumoral Treg displayed a unique TCR repertoire from peripheral Treg. In vivo suppression assays demonstrate that cognate-antigen matched iTreg are more potent suppressors of CD4+ than are polyclonal iTreg or nTreg, but were unable to suppress CD8+ T cell proliferation. Suppression occurred only locally at the site of immunization, and correlated with decreased expression of CD80 and CD86 on CD11c positive cells. Although established tumors facilitated the induction of TSA-specific iTreg, these iTreg suppressed CD4+ T cell accumulation only locally to the TME. Tumor mediated suppression of CD8+ T cell immunity appeared independent of TSA-specific iTreg.
FoxP3; iTreg; nTreg; regulatory T cell; tumor microenvironment
Whereas TGF-β is essential for the development of peripherally induced Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (iTreg cells) and Th17 cells, the intracellular signaling mechanism by which TGF-β regulates development of both cell subsets is less understood. In this study, we report that neither Smad2 nor Smad3 gene deficiency abrogates TGF-β–dependent iTreg induction by a deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A in vivo, although the loss of the Smad2 or Smad3 gene partially reduces iTreg induction in vitro. Similarly, SMAD2 and SMAD3 have a redundant role in development of Th17 in vitro and in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. In addition, ERK and/or JNK pathways were shown to be involved in regulating iTreg cells, whereas the p38 pathway predominately modulated Th17 and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis induction. Therefore, selective targeting of these intracellular TGF-β signaling pathways during iTreg and Th17 cell development might lead to the development of therapies in treating autoimmune and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
Stimulation of naïve mouse CD4+Foxp3− T cells in the presence of TGF-β results in the induction of Foxp3 expression and T suppressor function. However, Foxp3 expression in these induced T regulatory cells (iTreg) is unstable raising the possibility that iTreg would not be useful for treatment of autoimmune diseases. To analyze the factors that control the stability of Foxp3 expression in iTreg, we generated OVA-specific iTreg from OT-II Foxp3-GFP knock in mice. Following transfer to normal C57BL/6 mice, OT-II GFP+ cells maintained high levels of Foxp3 expression for 8 days. However, they rapidly lost Foxp3 expression upon stimulation with OVA in IFA in vivo. This unstable phenotype was associated with a strong methylation of the Treg-specific demethylated region (TSDR) within the Foxp3 locus. Administration of IL-2/anti-IL-2 complexes expanded the numbers of transferred Foxp3+ iTreg in the absence of antigen challenge. Notably, when the iTreg were stimulated with antigen, treatment with IL-2/anti-IL-2 complexes stabilized Foxp3 expression and resulted in enhanced demethylation of the TSDR. Conversely, neutralization of IL-2 or disruption of its signaling by deletion of Stat5 diminished the level of Foxp3 expression resulting in decreased suppressor function of the iTreg in vivo. Our data suggest that stimulation with TGF-β in vitro is not sufficient for imprinting T cells with stable expression of Foxp3. Administration of IL-2 in vivo results in stabilization of Foxp3 expression and may prove to be a valuable adjunct for the use of iTreg for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
The CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T-cells (Treg) that had lost CD25 and Foxp3 in vivo (ex-Treg) exist but are difficult to study. We generated antigen (Ag)-specific Treg hybridomas from iTreg clones (iTreg-hyb) using iTreg of DO11.10.Foxp3-GFP mice and presented evidence that they behave like ex-Treg. The iTreg-hyb displayed little CD25 and Foxp3-GFP but strong expression could be induced with OVA323–339 in the presence of Ag-presenting cells, rIL-2 and rTGF-β1. They displayed all of the iTreg-associated markers examined except CTLA-4, the latter was also absent in the ex-Treg. They lacked the Helios transcription factor, suggesting they were derived from iTreg. Similar to ex-Treg, the iTreg-hyb produced high level of IL-2 and Foxp3 under specific activation conditions. Two unusual properties were observed. First, the ability to induce Foxp3-GFP upon activation is progressively lost in culture over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. Second, Rag2−/− spleen cells alone selectively induced Foxp3-GFP expression albeit 30 times less efficient than Ag-specific activation. We identified cell-free supernatant, IL-6, IL-9, and IL-27 as Foxp3-inducing factors. Our study has significant implications to the stability, plasticity and fate of Treg. The usefulness and limitation of iTreg-hyb as a novel tool to study Foxp3 regulation and the fate of specific Treg subsets are discussed.
Foxp3; Hybridoma; Cytokines; Regulatory T-cell fate
CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Treg) are important mediators of immune tolerance. A subset of Treg can be generated in the periphery by TGF-beta dependent conversion of conventional CD4+CD25− T cells into induced Treg (iTreg). In chronic viral infection or malignancy, such induced iTreg, which limit the depletion of aberrant or infected cells, may be of pathogenic relevance. To identify potential targets for therapeutic intervention, we investigated the TGF-beta signaling in Treg. In contrast to conventional CD4+ T cells, Treg exhibited marked activation of the p38 MAP kinase pathway. Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase activity prevented the TGF-beta-dependent conversion of CD4+CD25− T cells into Foxp3+ iTreg in vitro. Of note, the suppressive capacity of nTreg was not affected by inhibiting p38 MAP kinase. Our findings indicate that signaling via p38 MAP kinase seems to be important for the peripheral generation of iTreg; p38 MAP kinase could thus be a therapeutic target to enhance immunity to chronic viral infection or cancer.
It has been documented all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) promotes the development of TGF-β-induced CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (iTreg) that play a vital role in the prevention of autoimmune responses, however, molecular mechanisms involved remain elusive. Our objective, therefore, was to determine how atRA promotes the differentiation of iTregs.
Addition of atRA to naïve CD4+CD25− cells stimulated with anti-CD3/CD28 antibodies in the presence of TGF-β not only increased Foxp3+ iTreg differentiation, but maintained Foxp3 expression through apoptosis inhibition. atRA/TGF-β-treated CD4+ cells developed complete anergy and displayed increased suppressive activity. Infusion of atRA/TGF-β-treated CD4+ cells resulted in the greater effects on suppressing symptoms and protecting the survival of chronic GVHD mice with typical lupus-like syndromes than did CD4+ cells treated with TGF-β alone. atRA did not significantly affect the phosphorylation levels of Smad2/3 and still promoted iTreg differentiation in CD4+ cells isolated from Smad3 KO and Smad2 conditional KO mice. Conversely, atRA markedly increased ERK1/2 activation, and blockade of ERK1/2 signaling completely abolished the enhanced effects of atRA on Foxp3 expression. Moreover, atRA significantly increased histone methylation and acetylation within the promoter and conserved non-coding DNA sequence (CNS) elements at the Foxp3 gene locus and the recruitment of phosphor-RNA polymerase II, while DNA methylation in the CNS3 was not significantly altered.
We have identified the cellular and molecular mechanism(s) by which atRA promotes the development and maintenance of iTregs. These results will help to enhance the quantity and quality of development of iTregs and may provide novel insights into clinical cell therapy for patients with autoimmune diseases and those needing organ transplantation.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a subset of T cells that are responsible for maintaining peripheral immune tolerance and homeostasis. The hallmark of Tregs is the expression of the forkhead box P3 (FoxP3) transcription factor. Natural regulatory T cells (nTregs) are a distinct population of T cells that express CD4 and FoxP3. nTregs develop in the thymus and function in maintaining peripheral immune tolerance. Other CD4+, CD4-CD8-, and CD8+CD28- T cells can be induced to acquire regulatory function by antigenic stimulation, depending on the cytokine milieu. Inducible (or adaptive) Tregs frequently express high levels of the interleukin 2 receptor (CD25). Atypical Tregs express FoxP3 and CD4 but have no surface expression of CD25. Type 1 regulatory T cells (Tr1 cells) produce IL-10, while T helper 3 cells (Th3) produce TGF-β. The function of inducible Tregs is presumably to maintain immune homeostasis, especially in the context of chronic inflammation or infection. Induction of Tregs in coronaviral infections protects against the more severe forms of the disease attributable to the host response. However, arteriviruses have exploited these T cell subsets as a means to dampen the immune response allowing for viral persistence. Treg induction or activation in the pathogenesis of disease has been described in both porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, lactate dehydrogenase elevating virus, and mouse hepatitis virus. This review discusses the development and biology of regulatory T cells in the context of arteriviral and coronaviral infection.
regulatory T cell; arterivirus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus; lactate dehydrogenase-elevating virus; coronavirus
The concentration of antigen or mitogenic stimuli is known to play an important role in controlling the differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into different effector phenotypes. In particular, whereas TCR engagement at low antigen doses in the presence of TGF-β and IL-2 can promote differentiation of Foxp3-expressing induced regulatory T cells (iTregs), high levels of antigen have been shown in vitro and in vivo to prevent Foxp3 upregulation. This tight control of iTreg differentiation dictated by antigen dose likely determines the quality and duration of an immune response. However, the molecular mechanism by which this high dose-inhibition of Foxp3 induction occurs is not well understood. In this study, we demonstrate that when cells are in the presence of CD28 costimulation, TCR-dependent NF-κB signaling is essential for Foxp3 inhibition at high doses of TCR engagement in mouse T cells. Prevention of Foxp3 induction depends on the production of NF-κB-dependent cytokines by the T cells themselves. Moreover, T cells that fail to upregulate Foxp3 under iTreg-differentiating conditions and high TCR stimulation acquire the capacity to make TNF and IFN-γ, as well as IL-17 and IL-9, especially if IFN-γ signaling is antagonized. Thus, NF-κB helps T cells control their differentiation fate in a cell-intrinsic manner and prevents peripheral iTreg development under conditions of high antigen load that may require more vigorous effector T cell responses.
Interplay between Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) and dendritic cells (DCs) maintains immunologic tolerance, but the effects of each cell on the other are not well understood. We report that polyclonal CD4+Foxp3+ Treg cells induced ex vivo with transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) (iTreg) suppress a lupus-like chronic graft-versus-host disease by preventing the expansion of immunogenic DCs and inducing protective DCs that generate additional recipient CD4+Foxp3+ cells. The protective effects of the transferred iTreg cells required both interleukin (IL)-10 and TGFβ, but the tolerogenic effects of the iTreg on DCs, and the immunosuppressive effects of these DCs were exclusively TGFβ-dependent. The iTreg were unable to tolerize Tgfbr2-deficient DCs. These results support the essential role of DCs in ‘infectious tolerance’ and emphasize the central role of TGFβ in protective iTreg/DC interactions in vivo.
regulatory T cells; dendritic cells; TGFβ; graft-versus-host disease
Adoptive transfer of thymus-derived natural regulatory T-cells (nTregs) effectively suppresses disease in murine models of autoimmunity and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). TGFβ induces Foxp3 expression and suppressive function in stimulated murine CD4+25- T cells, and these induced Treg (iTregs), like nTreg, suppress auto- and allo-reactivity in vivo. However, while TGFβ induces Foxp3 expression in stimulated human T-cells, the expanded cells lack suppressor cell function. Here we show that Rapamycin (Rapa) enhances TGFβ-dependent Foxp3 expression and induces a potent suppressor function in naïve (CD4+25-45RA+) T cells. Rapa/TGFβ iTregs are anergic, express CD25 at levels higher than expanded nTregs, and few cells secrete IL-2, IFNγ or IL-17 even after PMA and Ionomycin stimulation in vitro. Unlike other published methods of inducing Treg function, Rapa/TGFβ induces suppressive function even in the presence of memory CD4+ T-cells. A single apheresis unit of blood yields an average ~240×109 (range ~70–560×109) iTregs from CD4+25- T-cells in ≤ 2 weeks of culture. Most importantly, Rapa/TGFβ iTregs suppress disease in a xenogeneic model of GVHD. This study opens the door for iTreg cellular therapy for human diseases.
GVHD; Treg; Foxp3; Rapamycin; TGFβ
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a highly malignant brain tumor with an average survival time of 15 months. Previously, we and others demonstrated that CD4+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) infiltrate human GBM as well as mouse models that recapitulate malignant brain tumors. However, whether brain tumor-resident Tregs are thymus-derived natural Tregs (nTregs) or induced Tregs (iTregs), by the conversion of conventional CD4+ T cells, has not been established. To investigate this question, we utilized the i.c. implanted GL261 cell-based orthotopic mouse model, the RasB8 transgenic astrocytoma mouse model, and a human GBM tissue microarray. We demonstrate that Tregs in brain tumors are predominantly thymus derived, since thymectomy, prior to i.c. GL261 cell implantation, significantly decreased the level of Tregs in mice with brain tumors. Accordingly, most Tregs in human GBM and mouse brain tumors expressed the nTreg transcription factor, Helios. Interestingly, a significant effect of the brain tumor microenvironment on Treg lineage programming was observed, based on higher levels of brain tumor-resident Tregs expressing glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor and CD103 and lower levels of Tregs expressing CD62L and CD45RB compared with peripheral Tregs. Furthermore, there was a higher level of nTregs in brain tumors that expressed the proliferative marker Ki67 compared with iTregs and conventional CD4+ T cells. Our study demonstrates that future Treg-depleting therapies should aim to selectively target systemic rather than intratumoral nTregs in brain tumor-specific immunotherapeutic strategies.
brain cancer; CD4; CD25; FoxP3; GBM; glioblastoma; glioma; RasB8; regulatory T cells; Tregs
For more than a decade now, the regulatory T (Treg) cell has widely been considered as a critical subpopulation of T cells which can suppress effector T cell responses as well as suppressing the activity of other immune cells, such as mast cell, dendritic cells, and B cells. Treg cells have been broadly characterized as comprising of two main populations: thymus-derived natural Treg (nTreg) cells, and peripherally generated induced Treg (iTreg) cells. Both subsets have similar phenotypic characteristics and comparable suppressive function against T cell-mediated immune response and diseases. However, both Foxp3 positive Treg subsets exhibit some specific differences such as different mRNA transcripts and protein expression, epigenetic modification, and stability. These subtle differences reinforce the notion that they represent unique and distinct subsets. Accurately distinguishing iTregs from nTregs will help to clarify the biological features and contributions of each Treg subsets in peripheral tolerance, autoimmunity and tumor immunity. One difficult problem is that it has not been possible to distinguish iTregs from nTregs using surface markers until two recent articles were published to address this possibility. This review will focus on very recent advances in using molecular markers to differentiate these Treg subsets.
Treg; Foxp3; Helios; neuropilin 1
CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cell lineage commitment and expression of the transcription factor Foxp3 can be induced at the CD4+CD8+ double-positive (DP) and CD4+CD8? single-positive stages of thymic development, as well as in postthymic CD4+ T cells in peripheral lymphoid tissues. The availability of transgenic mice with Foxp3-dependent fluorochrome reporter gene expression has greatly facilitated studies on the intra- and extrathymic generation of murine Foxp3+ Treg cells. Here, we performed a comparative analysis of thymic Treg cell development and peripheral compartments of mature Treg cells in various transgenic strains with gene targeted and bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-driven Foxp3-fluorochrome expression. These studies revealed a relative deficiency of Foxp3+ DP thymocytes selectively in mice with targeted insertion of the fluorochrome reporter gene coding sequence into the endogenous Foxp3 gene. While Foxp3 BAC-driven fluorochrome expression in ex vivo CD4+ T cells was found to faithfully reflect Foxp3 protein expression, we provide evidence that Foxp3 BAC transgenesis can result in sizable populations of Foxp3+ Treg cells that lack fluorochrome reporter expression. This could be attributed to both timely delayed up-regulation of BAC expression in developing Treg cells and the accumulation of peripheral Foxp3+ Treg cells with continuous transcriptional inactivity of the Foxp3 BAC transgene.
Induced regulatory T (iTreg) lymphocytes show promise for application in the treatment of allergic, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. iTreg cells demonstrate advantages over natural Treg (nTreg) cells in terms of increased number of starting population and greater potential to proliferate. Different activation methods to generate iTreg cells result in iTreg cells that are heterogeneous in phenotype and mechanisms of suppression. Therefore it is of interest to explore new techniques to generate iTreg cells and to determine their physiological relevance.
Using phorbol myristate acetate (PMA)/ionomycin and anti-CD3 activation of CD4+CD25- cells we generated in vitro functional CD4+CD25+ iTreg (TregPMA) cells. Functionality of the generated TregPMA cells was tested in vivo in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) - CD45RB transfer colitis model.
TregPMA cells expressed regulatory markers and proved to ameliorate the disease phenotype in murine CD45RB transfer colitis model. The body weight loss and disease activity scores for TregPMA treated mice were reduced when compared to diseased control group. Histological assessment of colon sections confirmed amelioration of the disease phenotype. Additionally, cytokine analysis showed decreased levels of proinflammatory colonic and plasma IL-6, colonic IL-1 β and higher levels of colonic IL-17 when compared to diseased control group.
This study identifies a new method to generate in vitro iTreg cells (TregPMA cells) which physiological efficacy has been demonstrated in vivo.
IBD; CD45RB transfer; Treg; PMA/ionomycin
Foxp3 is a key transcription factor involved in the generation and function of regulatory T (Treg) cells. Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) induces Foxp3, which generates inducible Foxp3+ Treg cells from naïve T cells, and interleukin 6 (IL-6) inhibits the generation of inducible Treg cells and induces T helper cells that produce IL-17 (TH-17 cells). However, a role for IL-4 in the generation of TGF-β-induced Treg cells and/or the generation of effector CD4+ T helper cells has not been studied. Here, we show that IL-4 blocked the generation of TGF-β-induced Foxp3+ Treg cells. Instead, IL-4 induced a population of T helper cells that predominantly produce IL-9 and IL-10. The IL-9+IL-10+ T cells did not exhibit any regulatory properties in spite of producing large quantities of IL-10. Adoptive transfer of IL-9+IL-10+producing T cells into RAG-1-deficient mice induced colitis and peripheral neuritis. Interestingly, the severity of tissue inflammation was aggravated when IL-9+IL-10+ T cells were co-transferred with CD45RBhi CD4+ effector T cells into RAG-1-deficient mice, which indicated that IL-9+IL-10+ T cells do not display any suppressive function and therefore constitute a unique population of IL-10-producing helper-effector T cells that promote tissue inflammation.