Molecular and Cellular Neurosciences
Vascular cognitive impairment is the second most common cause of dementia which can be induced by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been proven to provide beneficial effects in several central nervous system (CNS) diseases, but the roles of Tregs in chronic cerebral hypoperfusion-induced white matter damage have not been explored. In this study, Foxp3-diphtheria toxin receptor (DTR) mice treated with diphtheria toxin (DT) and wild type C57BL/6 mice treated with anti-CD25 antibody were subjected to bilateral carotid artery stenosis (BCAS). Flow cytometry analysis showed Tregs were widely distributed in spleen whereas barely distributed in brain under normal conditions. The distribution of lymphocytes and Tregs did not change significantly in spleen and brain after BCAS. Depletion of Tregs decreased the numbers of mature oligodendrocytes and anti-inflammatory microglia at 14 days and 28 days following BCAS. And pro-inflammatory cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) showed higher expression after Tregs depletion. In contrast, Tregs depletion did not change the overall severity of white matter injury as shown by the expression of myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), myelin basic protein (MBP), luxol fast blue (LFB) staining and electron microscopy assay. Moreover, Tregs depletion had marginal effect on cognition defects after BCAS revealed by Morris water maze and novel object recognition examination at 28 days after BCAS. In summary, our results suggest an anti-inflammatory role of Tregs with marginal effects on white matter damage in mice after BCAS-induced chronic cerebral hypoperfusion.