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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Critical role of all-trans retinoic acid in stabilizing human natural regulatory T cells under inflammatory conditions.


PMID 25099355

Abstract

Recent studies have demonstrated that thymus-derived naturally occurring CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) in human and mouse may be unstable and dysfunctional in the presence of proinflammatory cytokines. All-trans RA (atRA), the active derivative of vitamin A, has been shown to regulate Treg and T effector cell differentiation. We hypothesize atRA stabilizes human natural Tregs (nTregs) under inflammatory conditions. atRA prevents human nTregs from converting to Th1 and/or Th17 cells and sustains their Foxp3 expression and suppressive function in vitro or in vivo following encounters with IL-1 and IL-6. Interestingly, adoptive transfer of human nTregs pretreated with atRA significantly enhanced their suppressive effects on xenograft-vs.-host diseases (xGVHDs), and atRA- but not rapamycin-pretreated nTregs sustained the functional activity against xGVHD after stimulation with IL-1/IL-6. atRA suppresses IL-1 receptor (IL-1R) up-regulation, accelerates IL-6R down-regulation, and diminishes their signaling events as well as prevents the up-regulation of STIP1 homology and U-Box containing protein 1 on Foxp3(+) cells following IL-1/IL-6 stimulation. atRA also increases histone acetylation on Foxp3 gene promoter and CpG demethylation in the region of Foxp3 locus (i.e., Treg-specific demethylated region). These results strongly implicate that nTregs primed with atRA may represent a novel treatment strategy to control established chronic immune-mediated autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

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