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Eur J Immunol. 2010 Oct;40(10):2902-13. doi: 10.1002/eji.201040505.

A non-redundant role for OX40 in the competitive fitness of Treg in response to IL-2.

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Molecular Immunology Unit, Department of Experimental Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.


OX40 stimulation is known to enhance activation of effector T cells and to inhibit induction and suppressive function of Treg. Here we uncovered a novel role of OX40 in sustaining Treg competitive fitness in vivo, during repopulation of lymphopenic hosts and reconstitution of BM chimeras. Defective expansion of OX40-null Treg diminished their ability to suppress inflammation in a model of lymphopenia-driven colitis. OX40-mediated promotion of Treg fitness spanned beyond lymphopenic environments, as endogenous Treg in OX40-null mice showed decreased accumulation during thymic development, enhanced susceptibility to antibody-mediated depletion and defective turnover following thymectomy. In vitro, OX40-deficient Treg were found to be intrinsically hyporesponsive to IL-2, in terms of Stat5 phosphorylation and proliferation, according to elevated SOCS1 content and reduced miR155 expression. Therefore, OX40 is a key factor in shaping Treg sensitivity to IL-2 and promoting their proliferation and survival, toward accurate immune regulation.

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