Author(s): Zorn E, Nelson EA, Mohseni M, Porcheray F, Kim H,
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Abstract IL-2 plays a critical role in the maintenance of CD4+CD25+ FOXP3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) in vivo. We examined the effects of IL-2 signaling in human Tregs. In vitro, IL-2 selectively up-regulated the expression of FOXP3 in purified CD4+CD25+ T cells but not in CD4+CD25- cells. This regulation involved the binding of STAT3 and STAT5 proteins to a highly conserved STAT-binding site located in the first intron of the FOXP3 gene. We also examined the effects of low-dose IL-2 treatment in 12 patients with metastatic cancer and 9 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Overall, IL-2 treatment resulted in a 1.9 median fold increase in the frequency of CD4+CD25+ cells in peripheral blood as well as a 9.7 median fold increase in FOXP3 expression in CD3+ T cells. CD56+CD3- natural killer (NK) cells also expanded during IL-2 therapy but did not express FOXP3. In vitro treatment of NK cells with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine restored the IL-2 signaling pathway leading to FOXP3 expression, suggesting that this gene was constitutively repressed by DNA methylation in these cells. Our findings support the clinical evaluation of low-dose IL-2 to selectively modulate CD4+CD25+ Tregs and increase expression of FOXP3 in vivo.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology