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Virol J. 2012 May 4;9:88. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-9-88.

Imbalance of placental regulatory T cell and Th17 cell population dynamics in the FIV-infected pregnant cat.

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University, PO Box GY, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

An appropriate balance in placental regulatory T cells (Tregs), an immunosuppressive cell population, and Th17 cells, a pro-inflammatory cell population, is essential in allowing tolerance of the semi-allogeneic fetus. TGF-β and IL-6 are cytokines that promote differentiation of Tregs and Th17 cells from a common progenitor; aberrant expression of the cytokines may perturb the balance in the two cell populations. We previously reported a pro-inflammatory placental environment with decreased levels of FoxP3, a Treg marker, and increased levels of IL-6 in the placentas of FIV-infected cats at early pregnancy. Thus, we hypothesized that FIV infection in the pregnant cat causes altered placental Treg and Th17 cell populations, possibly resulting in placental inflammation.

METHODS:

We examined the effect of FIV infection on Treg and Th17 populations in placentas at early pregnancy using quantitative confocal microscopy to measure FoxP3 or RORγ, a Th17 marker, and qPCR to quantify expression of the key cytokines TGF-β and IL-6.

RESULTS:

FoxP3 and RORγ were positively correlated in FIV-infected placentas at early pregnancy, but not placentas from normal cats, indicating virus-induced alteration in the balance of these cell populations. In control cats the expression of IL-6 and RORγ was positively correlated as predicted, but this relationship was disrupted in infected animals. TGF-β was reduced in infected queens, an occurrence that could dysregulate both Treg and Th17 cell populations. Co-expression analyses revealed a highly significant positive correlation between IL-6 and TGF-β expression in control animals that did not occur in infected animals.

CONCLUSION:

Collectively, these data point toward potential disruption in the balance of Treg and Th17 cell populations that may contribute to FIV-induced inflammation in the feline placenta.

PMID:
22559012
PMCID:
PMC3419658
DOI:
10.1186/1743-422X-9-88
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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