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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2011;28(4):639-48. doi: 10.1159/000335759. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells protect endothelial function impaired by oxidized low density lipoprotein via the KLF-2 transcription factor.

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Department of Cardiology, Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 1277 Jie-Fang Avenue, Wuhan, China.



To investigate the regulation of CD4(+)CD25(+) Regulatory T cells (Tregs) on pro-inflammatory adhesion molecules, Krüppel-Like Factor-2 (KLF-2) and its downstream transcriptional targets in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) impaired by ox-LDL and the mechanisms of it.


HUVECs were cultured in the continuous presence of ox-LDL(0 mg/L,25 mg/L,50 mg/L,100 mg/L) for 4, 6, 12 and 24 hours to allow identification of early-and late-induced genes, respectively, whereas non-stimulated controls were taken at 0 hours. The expression of pro-inflammatory adhesion molecules such as vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), E-selectin, KLF-2 and its target genes eNOS, PAI-1 were determined by real time RT-PCR and/or western-blot analysis. Expression of pro-inflammatory adhesion molecules, KLF-2, eNOS and PAI-1 in HUVEC cultured alone or with anti-CD3 mAbs activated Tregs, followed by addition of ox-LDL (50 mg/L) for 6 hours, are compared to expression levels in control cultures. Ox-LDL treated HUVECs increased pro-inflammatory adhesion molecules expression, as well as increased PAI-1 but decreased eNOS expression accompanied with significant downregulating of KLF-2 at a dose and time dependent manner. Furthermore, ox-LDL increased pro-inflammatory adhesion molecules but inhibited KLF2 expression was reversed by addition of Tregs. Small interfering RNA reduced endogenous KLF-2 expression and partly reversed the suppressive effect of Tregs on HUVECs activation, which strongly implicate KLF-2 as a transcriptional regulator of the Tregs-mediated effects in endothelial cells. Mechanism studies reveal that Treg-mediated KLF2 expression in HUVECs impaired by ox-LDL requires cell contact as well as soluble factors.


Tregs could protect endothelial function that is largely dependent on KLF2 and its downstream transcriptional targets regulation involving cell-to-cell contact and soluble factors.

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