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PD-1+ melanocortin receptor dependent-Treg cells prevent autoimmune disease

Muhammad, F;Wang, D;Montieth, A;Lee, S;Preble, J;Foster, CS;Larson, TA;Ding, K;Dvorak, JD;Lee, DJ;

Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) is a mouse model of human autoimmune uveitis marked by ocular autoantigen-specific regulatory immunity in the spleen. The melanocortin 5 receptor (MC5r) and adenosine 2A receptor (A2Ar) are required for induction of post-EAU regulatory T cells (Tregs) which provide resistance to EAU. We show that blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway prevented suppression of EAU by post-EAU Tregs. A2Ar induction of PD-1+FoxP3+ Tregs in uveitis patients was similar compared to healthy controls, but was significantly reduced with melanocortin stimulation. Further, lower body mass index correlated with responsiveness to stimulation of this pathway. These observations indicate an importance of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway to provide resistance to relapsing uveitis and shows a reduced capacity of uveitis patients to induce Tregs when stimulated through melanocortin receptors, but that it is possible to bypass this part of the pathway through direct stimulation of A2Ar.