Stem cell-derived tissue-associated regulatory T cells ameliorate the development of autoimmunity

Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 5;6:20588. doi: 10.1038/srep20588.


Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) have the potential to produce almost all of the cells in the body, including regulatory T cells (Tregs). However, the exact conditions required for the development of antigen (Ag)-specific Tregs from PSCs (i.e., PSC-Tregs) are not well delineated. Ag-specific PSC-Tregs can be tissue/organ-associated and migrate to local inflamed tissues/organs to suppress the autoimmune response after adoptive transfer, thereby avoiding potential overall immunosuppression from non-specific Tregs. In this study, we developed a new approach to generate functional Ag-specific Tregs from induced PSCs (iPSCs), i.e., iPSC-Tregs, which had the ability to generate an Ag-specific immunosuppressive response in a murine model of arthritis. We retrovirally transduced murine iPSCs with a construct containing genes of Ag-specific T cell receptor (TCR) and the transcriptional factor FoxP3. We differentiated the iPSCs into Ag-specific iPSC-Tregs using in vitro or in vivo Notch signaling, and demonstrated that adoptive transfer of such Tregs dramatically suppressed autoimmunity in a well-established Ag-induced arthritis model, including the inflammation, joint destruction, cartilage prostaglandin depletion, osteoclast activity, and Th17 production. Our results indicate that PSCs can be used to develop Ag-specific Tregs, which have a therapeutic potential for Treg-based therapies of autoimmune disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer / methods*
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Experimental / immunology
  • Arthritis, Experimental / therapy*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell