Accumulation and retention of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) has been reported within post viralencephalitic brains, however, the full extent to which these cells modulate neuroinflammation is yet to be elucidated. Here, we used Foxp3-DTR (diphtheria toxin receptor) knock-in transgenic mice, which upon administration of low dose diphtheria toxin (DTx) results in specific deletion of Tregs. We investigated the proliferation status of various immune cell subtypes within inflamed central nervous system (CNS) tissue. Depletion of Tregs resulted in increased proliferation of both CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell subsets within the brain at 14 d post infection (dpi) when compared to Treg-sufficient animals. At 30 dpi, while proliferation of CD8+ T-cells was controlled within brains of both Treg-depleted and undepleted mice, proliferation of CD4+ T-cells remained significantly enhanced with DTx-treatment. Previous studies have demonstrated that Treg numbers within the brain rebound following DTx treatment to even higher numbers than in untreated animals. Despite this rebound, CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells proliferated at a higher rate when compared to that of Treg-sufficient mice, thus maintaining sustained neuroinflammation. Furthermore, at 30 dpi we found the majority of CD8+ T-cells were CD127hi KLRG1-indicating that the cells were long lived memory precursor cells. These cells showed marked elevation of CD103 expression, a marker of tissue resident-memory T-cells (TRM) in the CNS, in untreated animals when compared to DTx-treated animals suggesting that generation of TRM is impaired upon Treg depletion. Moreover, the effector function of TRM as indicated by granzyme B production in response to peptide restimulation was found to be more potent in Treg-sufficient animals. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that Tregs limit neuroinflammatory responses to viral infection by controlling cell proliferation and may direct a larger proportion of lymphocytes within the brain to be maintained as TRM cells.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH-066703) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS-038836). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. This project was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH-066703) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS-038836). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.