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Impact of Regulatory T Cells on Type 2 Alveolar Epithelial Cell Transcriptomes during Resolution of Acute Lung Injury and Contributions of IFN-γ

Mock, JR;Dial, CF;Tune, MK;Gilmore, RC;O'Neal, WK;Dang, H;Doerschuk, CM;

By enhancing tissue repair and modulating immune responses, Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) play essential roles in resolution from lung injury. The current study investigated the effects that Tregs exert directly or indirectly on the transcriptional profiles of type 2 alveolar epithelial (AT2) cells during resolution in an experimental model of acute lung injury. Purified AT2 cells were isolated from uninjured mice or mice recovering from LPS-induced lung injury, either in the presence of Tregs or in Treg-depleted mice, and transcriptome profiling identified differentially expressed genes. Depletion of Tregs resulted in altered expression of 49 genes within AT2 cells during resolution, suggesting that Tregs present in this microenvironment influence AT2-cell function. Biological processes from Gene Ontology enriched in the absence of Tregs included those describing responses to IFN. Neutralizing IFN-γ in Treg-depleted mice reversed the effect of Treg depletion on inflammatory macrophages and B cells by preventing the increase in inflammatory macrophages and the decrease in B cells. Our results provide insight into the effects of Tregs on AT2 cells. Tregs directly or indirectly impact many AT2-cell functions, including IFN type I and II–mediated signaling pathways. Inhibition of IFN-γ expression and/or function may be one mechanism through which Tregs accelerate resolution after acute lung injury.