CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells are crucial for maintaining homeostasis and preventing autoimmune diseases. Nonetheless, we and others have previously reported that natural Treg cells are unstable and dysfunctional in the inflamed environment with a high-salt diet, limiting the Treg function in disease control. In this study, we made an innovative observation showing a high degree of heterogeneity within the Treg pool. We identified that CD126, interleukin (IL)-6 receptor alpha chain, contributed to Treg cell instability. Using a series of in vitro and in vivo experimental approaches, we demonstrated that CD126Lo/− Treg cells presented greater function and were more stable than CD126Hi nTreg cells, even in the presence of IL-6 and inflammation. Blockade of programmed death-1 (PD-1) interrupted CD126Lo/− nTreg cell stability. Additionally, CD126Lo/− Treg cells can treat colitis and established collagen-induced arthritis, while the CD126Hi cell population failed to do this. Moreover, we noted that CD126 expression of Treg cells had a positive correlation to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) severity and the stability of Treg cells. Our results strongly suggest that the manipulation of CD126Lo/− nTreg cells could be a novel strategy for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and for other conditions associated with a deficit of Treg cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Drug Discovery