Tregs that accumulate in the encephalomyocarditis virus-infected mouse brain: Origin, compartmentalization, function, and gene signature
It is well recognized that regulatory T cells (Tregs) are immunosuppressive, by which they prevent systemic autoimmunity throughout life. Beyond this stereotypical function, however, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that Tregs in distinct tissues, including the visceral adipose tissue, dystrophic muscle, the flu-infected lung, and wounded skin can acquire unique functions directed by their local environment. Tregs in these tissues can employ a wide variety of mechanisms to accumulate and acquire tissue-specific function, including conversion from conventional T cells, canonical T cell receptor (TCR)-dependent expansion and non-canonical, TCR-independent, cytokine-dependent expansion. Intriguingly, the niche-specific function of tissue Tregs can be independent of, and mutually exclusive of, their immunosuppressive capacity. Together, this recent literature reveals that Tregs can accumulate in discrete tissue sites through non-canonical mechanisms, and in response to niche-specific cues can acquire distinct functions, which distinguish them from their peripheral, lymphoid Treg counterparts. Other tissue Treg populations remain to be identified and characterized. Moreover, it is unknown whether other tissue Tregs rely on non-canonical mechanisms of accumulation, and exhibit functions distinct from the typical Treg immunosuppressive role.
Tregs are known to accumulate in the CNS during infection, injury and inflammation. The CNS is an organ with distinctive architecture that maintains a regulated interaction with the peripheral immune system due to its critical function and poor regenerative capacity. While it is known that Tregs broadly protect against excessive tissue pathology in the diseased CNS, the origin, localization, function, mechanism of accumulation, and gene signature of CNS-infiltrating Tregs have not been studied, likely due to the challenge of isolating these rare cells and distinguishing them from circulating cells left over after perfusion.
Here, we establish a safe model of CNS [...]
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