Scientific reports

Soluble OX40L and JAG1 Induce Selective Proliferation of Functional Regulatory T-Cells Independent of canonical TCR signaling.

PMID 28045060


Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) play a pivotal role in maintaining peripheral tolerance. Increasing Treg numbers/functions has been shown to ameliorate autoimmune diseases. However, common Treg expansion approaches use T-Cell Receptor (TCR)-mediated stimulation which also causes proliferation of effector T-cells (Teff). To overcome this limitation, purified patient-specific Tregs are expanded ex vivo and transfused. Although promising, this approach is not suitable for routine clinical use. Therefore, an alternative approach to selectively expand functional Tregs in vivo is highly desired. We report a novel TCR-independent strategy for the selective proliferation of Foxp3+Tregs (without Teff proliferation), by co-culturing CD4+ T-cells with OX40 L+Jagged(JAG)-1+ bone marrow-derived DCs differentiated with GM-CSF or treating them with soluble OX40 L and JAG1 in the presence of exogenous IL-2. Tregs expanded using soluble OX40 L and JAG1 were of suppressive phenotype and delayed the onset of diabetes in NOD mice. Ligation of OX40 L and JAG1 with their cognate-receptors OX40 and Notch3, preferentially expressed on Tregs but not on Teff cells, was required for selective Treg proliferation. Soluble OX40L-JAG1-induced NF-κB activation as well as IL-2-induced STAT5 activation were essential for the proliferation of Tregs with sustained Foxp3 expression. Altogether, these findings demonstrate the utility of soluble OX40 L and JAG1 to induce TCR-independent Treg proliferation.