IL-2 availability regulates the tissue specific phenotype of murine intra-hepatic Tregs

Ada S. Kurt*, Karoline Strobl, Paula Ruiz, Gabriel Osborn, Tonika Chester, Lauren Dawson, Karsten M. Warwas, Elizabeth H. Grey, Sotiris Mastoridis, Elisavet Kodela, Niloufar Safinia, Alberto Sanchez-Fueyo, Marc Martinez-Llordella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs are known to acquire tissue-specific features and exert cytoprotective and regenerative functions. The extent to which this applies to liver-resident Tregs is unknown. In this study, we aimed to explore the phenotypic and functional characteristics of adult murine liver resident Tregs during homeostasis. Additionally, we investigated their role in ameliorating liver inflammation and tissue damage. Quantification of Foxp3+CD4+CD25+ cells comparing different tissues showed that the liver contained significantly fewer resident Tregs. A combination of flow cytometry phenotyping and microarray analysis of intra-hepatic and splenic Tregs under homeostatic conditions revealed that, although intra-hepatic Tregs exhibited the core transcriptional Treg signature, they expressed a distinct transcriptional profile. This was characterized by reduced CD25 expression and increased levels of pro-inflammatory Th1 transcripts Il1b and Ifng. In vivo ablation of Tregs in the Foxp3-DTR mouse model showed that Tregs had a role in reducing the magnitude of systemic and intra-hepatic inflammatory responses following acute carbon tetrachloride (CCl₄) injury, but their absence did not impact the development of hepatocyte necrosis. Conversely, the specific expansion of Tregs by administration of IL-2 complexes increased the number of intra-hepatic Tregs and significantly ameliorated tissue damage following CCl₄ administration in C57BL/6 mice. The cytoprotective effect observed in response to IL-2c was associated with the increased expression of markers known to regulate Treg suppressive function. Our results offer insight into the transcriptome and complex immune network of intra-hepatic Tregs and suggest that strategies capable of selectively increasing the pool of intra-hepatic Tregs could constitute effective therapies in inflammatory liver diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1040031
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022


  • Tregs (regulatory T cells)
  • Liver
  • Acute inflammation
  • Treg depletion
  • Tissue specific


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