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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Regulatory Rebound in IL-12-Treated Tumors Is Driven by Uncommitted Peripheral Regulatory T Cells.


PMID 26085681

Abstract

IL-12 promotes a rapid reversal of immune suppression in the tumor microenvironment. However, the adjuvant activity of IL-12 is short-lived due to regulatory T cell (Treg) reinfiltration. Quantitative analysis of Treg kinetics in IL-12-treated tumors and tumor-draining lymph nodes revealed a transient loss followed by a rapid 4-fold expansion of tumor Treg between days 3 and 10. Subset-specific analysis demonstrated that the posttreatment rebound was driven by the CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) neuropilin-1(low) peripheral Treg (pTreg), resulting in a 3-5-fold increase in the pTreg to CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) neuropilin-1(high) thymic Treg ratio by day 10. The expanding pTreg displayed hypermethylation of the CpG islands in Treg-specific demethylated region, CTLA-4 exon 2, and glucocorticoid-induced TNFR exon 5, were phenotypically unstable, and exhibited diminished suppressive function consistent with an uncommitted in vitro-induced Treg-like phenotype. In vitro culture of posttherapy Treg populations under Th1-promoting conditions resulted in higher levels of IFN-γ production by pTreg compared with thymic Treg, confirming their transitional state. Blockade of selected molecular mechanisms that are known to promote Treg expansion identified IDO-positive dendritic cells as the primary mediator of post-IL-12 pTreg expansion. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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