Autophagy-dependent regulatory T cells are critical for the control of graft-versus-host disease

Laëtitia Le Texier, Katie E. Lineburg, Benjamin Cao, Cameron McDonald-Hyman, Lucie Leveque-El Mouttie, Jemma Nicholls, Michelle Melino, Blessy C. Nalkurthi, Kylie A. Alexander, Bianca Teal, Stephen J. Blake, Fernando Souza-Fonseca-Guimaraes, Christian R. Engwerda, Rachel D. Kuns, Steven W. Lane, Michele Teng, Charis Teh, Daniel Gray, Andrew D. Clouston, Susan K. NilssonBruce R. Blazar, Geoffrey R. Hill, Kelli P.A. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a crucial role in the maintenance of peripheral tolerance. Quantitative and/or qualitative defects in Tregs result in diseases such as autoimmunity, allergy, malignancy, and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a serious complication of allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT). We recently reported increased expression of autophagy-related genes (Atg) in association with enhanced survival of Tregs after SCT. Autophagy is a self-degradative process for cytosolic components that promotes cell homeostasis and survival. Here, we demonstrate that the disruption of autophagy within FoxP3+ Tregs (B6.Atg7fl/fl-FoxP3cre+ ) resulted in a profound loss of Tregs, particularly within the bone marrow (BM). This resulted in dysregulated effector T cell activation and expansion, and the development of enterocolitis and scleroderma in aged mice. We show that the BM compartment is highly enriched in TIGIT+ Tregs and that this subset is differentially depleted in the absence of autophagy. Moreover, following allogeneic SCT, recipients of grafts from B6.Atg7fl/fl-FoxP3cre+ donors exhibited reduced Treg reconstitution, exacerbated GVHD, and reduced survival compared with recipients of B6.WT-FoxP3cre+ grafts. Collectively, these data indicate that autophagy-dependent Tregs are critical for the maintenance of tolerance after SCT and that the promotion of autophagy represents an attractive immune-restorative therapeutic strategy after allogeneic SCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e86850
JournalJCI insight
Volume1
Issue number15
StatePublished - Sep 22 2016

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