Regulatory T cells (Tregs) must express appropriate skin-homing adhesion molecules to exert suppressive effects on dermal inflammation. However, the mechanisms whereby they control local inflammation remain unclear. In this study we used confocal intravital microscopy in wild-type and Foxp3-GFP mice to examine adhesion of effector T cells and Tregs in dermal venules. These experiments examined a two-challenge model of contact sensitivity (CS) in which Treg abundance in the skin progressively increases during the course of the response. Adhesion of CD4(+) T cells increased during CS, peaking 8-24 h after an initial hapten challenge, and within 4 h of a second challenge. At these time points, 40 of adherent CD4(+) T cells were Foxp3(+) Tregs. CD4(+) T cell adhesion was highly dependent on ICAM-1, and consistent with this finding, anti-ICAM-1 prevented Treg adhesion. Skin TGF-beta levels were elevated in skin during both challenges, in parallel with Treg adhesion. In the two-challenge CS model, inhibition of ICAM-1 eliminated Treg adhesion, an effect associated with a significant increase in neutrophil adhesion. Similarly, total CD4(+) T cell depletion caused an increase in adhesion of CD8(+) T cells. Because Treg adhesion was restricted by both of these treatments, these experiments suggest that adherent Tregs can control adhesion of proinflammatory leukocytes in vivo. Moreover, the critical role of ICAM-1 in Treg adhesion provides a potential explanation for the exacerbation of inflammation reported in some studies of ICAM-1-deficient mice.
Deane, J. A., Abeynaike, L. D., Norman, M. U., Wee, J. L., Kitching, A. R., Kubes, P., & Hickey, M. J. (2012). Endogenous regulatory T cells adhere in inflamed dermal vessels via ICAM-1: association with regulation of effector leukocyte adhesion. Journal of Immunology, 188(5), 2179 - 2188. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1102752