In vivo expansion of endogenous regulatory t cell populations induces long-term suppression of contact hypersensitivity

Asmaa El Beidaq, Christopher W.M. Link, Katharina Hofmann, Britta Frehse, Karin Hartmann, Katja Bieber, Stefan F. Martin, Ralf J. Ludwig, Rudolf A. Manz*

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Contact hypersensitivity (CHS) of murine skin serves as a model of allergic contact dermatitis. Hapten-specific CD8 T cells and neutrophils represent the major effector cells driving this inflammatory reaction whereas Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) control the severity of inflammation. However, whether in vivo expansion of endogenous Tregs can downregulate CHS-mediated inflammation remains to be elucidated. In this study, we addressed this issue by using injection of an IL-2/anti-IL-2 mAb JES6-1 complex (IL-2/JES6-1) as a means of Treg induction in 2,4,6-trinitrochlorobenzene-induced CHS. IL-2/JES6-1 injection before or after hapten sensitization led to a considerable reduction of skin inflammation, even when rechallenged up to 3 wk after the last treatment. Conversely, Treg depletion re-established the CHS response in IL-2/JES6-1-treated mice. IL-2/JES6-1 injection resulted in increased frequencies of natural and peripheral Tregs in spleen and draining lymph nodes (LNs), elevated IL-10 and TGF-β production by CD4 T cells, reduced CD86 expression by dendritic cells, and led to lower numbers of hapten-specific IFN-γ-producing CD8 T effector cells in LNs. Neutrophil and CD8 T cell infiltration was reduced in inflamed ear tissue, whereas CTLA-4+Foxp3+ Treg frequencies were augmented. Adoptive transfer of LN cells of sensitized mice into recipients treated with IL-2/JES6-1 showed impaired CHS. Our results show that in vivo Treg expansion results in a prolonged CHS suppression, a sustained reduction of hapten-specific CD8 T cells, and a decrease in effector cell influx in inflamed tissue.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1567-1576
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2016


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