CD45Rb-low effector T cells require IL-4 to induce IL-10 in FoxP3 Tregs and to protect mice from inflammation

PLoS One. 2019 May 23;14(5):e0216893. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216893. eCollection 2019.


CD4+ effector/memory T cells (Tem) represent a leading edge of the adaptive immune system responsible for protecting the body from infection, cancer, and other damaging processes. However, a subset of Tem cells with low expression of CD45Rb (RbLoTem) has been shown to suppress inflammation despite their effector surface phenotype and the lack of FoxP3 expression, the canonical transcription factor found in most regulatory T cells. In this report, we show that RbLoTem cells can suppress inflammation by influencing Treg behavior. Co-culturing activated RbLoTem and Tregs induced high expression of IL-10 in vitro, and conditioned media from RbLoTem cells induced IL-10 expression in FoxP3+ Tregs in vitro and in vivo, indicating that RbLoTem cells communicate with Tregs in a cell-contact independent fashion. Transcriptomic and multi-analyte Luminex data identified both IL-2 and IL-4 as potential mediators of RbLoTem-Treg communication, and antibody-mediated neutralization of either IL-4 or CD124 (IL-4Rα) prevented IL-10 induction in Tregs. Moreover, isolated Tregs cultured with recombinant IL-2 and IL-4 strongly induced IL-10 production. Using house dust mite (HDM)-induced airway inflammation as a model, we confirmed that the in vivo suppressive activity of RbLoTem cells was lost in IL-4-ablated RbLoTem cells. These data support a model in which RbLoTem cells communicate with Tregs using a combination of IL-2 and IL-4 to induce robust expression of IL-10 and suppression of inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Cell Communication / genetics
  • Cell Communication / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / genetics
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Pyroglyphidae / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology


  • IL10 protein, mouse
  • Il4 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens