The IL-2/anti-IL-2 Ab immunocomplex has recently been shown to expand the naturally occurring pool of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs). In this study, we show that administration of the IL-2/anti-IL-2 Ab immunocomplex to C57BL/6 mice, prior to corneal HSV-1 infection, significantly increased the pool of Foxp3(+) Tregs when measured at early time points postinfection. Increased numbers of Foxp3(+) Tregs on days 2 and 4 postinfection resulted in a marked reduction in the development of severe herpetic stromal keratitis (HSK). When compared with corneas from the control group, corneas from the immunocomplex-treated group showed a significant reduction in the amount of infectious virus on day 2 but not on day 4 postinfection. Reduced viral load was associated with a 2-fold increase in NK cell numbers in corneas from the immunocomplex-treated group of mice. Moreover, a dramatic reduction in the influx of CD4 T cells in inflamed corneas was determined on days 7 and 16 postinfection in the immunocomplex-treated group of infected mice. Immunocomplex treatment given on days 5, 6, and 7 postinfection significantly increased Foxp3(+) Tregs in draining lymph nodes and in the spleen but failed to reduce the severity of HSK. In terms of the influx of CD4 T cells and granulocytes into inflamed corneas, no significant differences were noted between both groups of mice on day 16 postinfection. Our findings demonstrate that increasing Foxp3(+) Tregs early but not late postinfection in secondary lymphoid tissues is more efficacious in controlling the severity of HSK.
Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.