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J Exp Med. 2003 Feb 17;197(4):403-11.

Regulatory T cells selectively express toll-like receptors and are activated by lipopolysaccharide.

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  • 1Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, 2781-901 Oeiras, Portugal.

Abstract

Regulatory CD4 T cells (Treg) control inflammatory reactions to commensal bacteria and opportunist pathogens. Activation of Treg functions during these processes might be mediated by host-derived proinflammatory molecules or directly by bacterial products. We tested the hypothesis that engagement of germline-encoded receptors expressed by Treg participate in the triggering of their function. We report that the subset of CD4 cells known to exert regulatory functions in vivo (CD45RB(low) CD25(+)) selectively express Toll-like receptors (TLR)-4, -5, -7, and -8. Exposure of CD4(+) CD25(+) cells to the TLR-4 ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induces up-regulation of several activation markers and enhances their survival/proliferation. This proliferative response does not require antigen-presenting cells and is augmented by T cell receptor triggering and interleukin 2 stimulation. Most importantly, LPS treatment increases CD4(+) CD25(+) cell suppressor efficiency by 10-fold and reveals suppressive activity in the CD4(+) CD45RB(low) CD25(-) subset that when tested ex-vivo, scores negative. Moreover, LPS-activated Treg efficiently control naive CD4 T cell-dependent wasting disease. These findings provide the first evidence that Treg respond directly to proinflammatory bacterial products, a mechanism that likely contributes to the control of inflammatory responses.

PMID:
12591899
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2193858
Free PMC Article
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