Induced regulatory T cells are phenotypically unstable and do not protect mice from rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis

Joanna R. Ghali, Maliha A. Alikhan, Stephen R. Holdsworth, A. Richard Kitching

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Regulatory T (Treg) cells are a suppressive CD4+ T-cell subset. We generated induced Treg (iTreg) cells and explored their therapeutic potential in a murine model of rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. Polyclonal naive CD4+ T cells were cultured in vitro with interleukin-2 (IL-2), transforming growth factor-β1, all-trans-retinoic acid and monoclonal antibodies against interferon-γ and IL-4, generating Foxp3+ iTreg cells. To enhance their suppressive phenotype, iTreg cultures were modified with the addition of a monoclonal antibody against IL-12p40 or by using RORγt-/- CD4+ T cells. Induced Treg cells were transferred into models of delayed-type hypersensitivity and experimental glomerulonephritis. The iTreg cells exhibited comparable surface receptor expression and in vitro suppressive ability to natural Treg cells, but did not regulate antigen-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity or systemic inflammatory immune responses, losing Foxp3 expression in vivo. In glomerulonephritis, transferred iTreg cells did not prevent renal injury or modulate systemic T helper type 1 immune responses. Induced Treg cells cultured with anti-IL-12p40 had an enhanced suppressive phenotype in vitro and regulated dermal delayed-type hypersensitivity in vivo, but were not protective against renal injury, losing Foxp3 expression, especially in the transferred cells recruited to the kidney. Use of RORγt-/- CD4+ T cells or iTreg cells generated from sensitized CD4+ Foxp3- cells did not regulate renal or systemic inflammatory responses in vivo. In conclusion, iTreg cells suppress T-cell proliferation in vitro, but do not regulate experimental glomerulonephritis, being unstable in this inflammatory milieu in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-114
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • All-trans-retinoic acid
  • Foxp3
  • Induced regulatory T cell
  • Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis
  • Retoinic acid receptor-related orphan receptor γt

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