Rapamycin resistant murine th9 cells have a stable in vivo phenotype and inhibit graft-versus-host reactivity

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 21;8(8):e72305. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072305. eCollection 2013.


The cytokine micro-environment can direct murine CD4(+) T cells towards various differentiation lineages such as Th1, Th2 and Tregs even in the presence of rapamycin, which results in T cells that mediate increased in vivo effects. Recently, a new lineage of T cells known as Th9 cells that secrete increased IL-9 have been described. However, it is not known whether Th9 differentiation occurs in the presence of rapamycin or whether adoptively transferred donor Th9 cells would augment or restrict alloreactivity after experimental bone marrow transplantation. We found that CD4(+) T cells that were co-stimulated and polarized with TGF-β and IL-4 in the presence or absence of rapamycin each yielded effector cells of Th9 phenotype that secreted increased IL-9 and expressed a transcription factor profile characteristic of both Th9 and Th2 cells (high GATA-3/low T-bet). Augmentation of T cell replete allografts with manufactured rapamycin resistant Th9 cells markedly reduced both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell engraftment and strongly inhibited allo-specific T cell secretion of IFN-γ. The potency of Th9 cell inhibition of alloreactivity was similar to that of rapamycin resistant Th2 cells. Importantly, rapamycin resistant Th9 cells persisted and maintained their cytokine phenotype, thereby indicating limited differentiation plasticity of the Th9 subset. As such, Th9 differentiation proceeds in the presence of rapamycin to generate a cell therapy product that maintains high IL-9 expression in vivo while inhibiting IFN-γ driven alloreactivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phenotype
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Interleukin-4
  • Sirolimus