T regulatory lymphocytes in type 1 diabetes: Impaired CD25 expression and IL-2 induced STAT5 phosphorylation in pediatric patients

Autoimmunity. 2016 Dec;49(8):523-531. doi: 10.1080/08916934.2016.1217998. Epub 2016 Aug 25.


T regulatory cells (Tregs) are essential for maintaining tolerance and preventing autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes (T1D). In our study, we investigated CD25 + FoxP3 + Tregs and thymic FoxP3 + Helios + Tregs in large cohorts of children with T1D at onset and with long-term T1D, and further in their relatives and healthy controls. We observed significantly decreased numbers of CD25 + FoxP3 + Tregs, but not FoxP3 + Helios + Tregs, in long-term patients compared with the control group and T1D onset. Furthermore, long-term T1D patients exhibited highly significant decrease of CD25 expression on both CD25 + FoxP3 + Tregs and FoxP3 + Helios + Tregs, independently on age or the duration of diabetes. A similar reduction of CD25 expression was also found in T1D relatives, more significant in those with positive autoantibodies. Low CD25 expression was associated with impaired signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) phosphorylation after IL-2 exposure. Our results show that the frequency of Tregs is altered in a large cohort of long-term T1D patients, a profound decrease in CD25 expression and altered IL-2 signaling are typical features of Tregs populations in long-term diabetic patients and their relatives.

Keywords: CD25; FoxP3; Type 1 diabetes; pSTAT5; regulatory T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Infant
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-2 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / genetics*
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Phosphorylation
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism*
  • Thymocytes / cytology
  • Thymocytes / immunology
  • Thymocytes / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor