IL-34 Actions on FOXP3+ Tregs and CD14+ Monocytes Control Human Graft Rejection

Front Immunol. 2020 Aug 11;11:1496. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01496. eCollection 2020.


Cytokines are major players regulating immune responses toward inflammatory and tolerogenic results. In organ and bone marrow transplantation, new reagents are needed to inhibit tissue destructive mechanisms and eventually induce immune tolerance without overall immunosuppression. IL-34 is a cytokine with no significant homology with any other cytokine but that acts preferentially through CSF-1R, as CSF-1 does, and through PTPζ and CD138. Although IL-34 and CSF-1 share actions, a detailed analysis of their effects on immune cells needs further research. We previously showed that both CD4+ and CD8+ FOXP3+ Tregs suppress effector T cells through the production of IL-34, but not CSF-1, and that this action was mediated through antigen-presenting cells. We showed here by single-cell RNAseq and cytofluorimetry that different subsets of human monocytes expressed different levels of CSF-1R, CD138, and PTPζ and that both CD4+ and CD8+ FOXP3+ Tregs expressed higher levels of CSF-1R than conventional T cells. The effects of IL-34 differed in the survival of these different subpopulations of monocytes and RNAseq analysis showed several genes differentially expressed between IL-34, CSF-1, M0, M1, and also M2 macrophages. Acute graft-vs.-host disease (aGVHD) in immunodeficient NSG mice injected with human PBMCs was decreased when treated with IL-34 in combination with an anti-CD45RC mAb that depleted conventional T cells. When IL-34-differentiated monocytes were used to expand Tregs in vitro, both CD4+ and CD8+ FOXP3+ Tregs were highly enriched and this effect was superior to the one obtained with CSF-1. Human CD8+ Tregs expanded in vitro with IL-34-differentiated allogeneic monocytes suppressed human immune responses in an NSG mouse aGVHD model humanized with hPBMCs. Overall, we showed that IL-34 induced the differentiation of human monocytes with a particular transcriptional profile and these cells favored the development of potent suppressor FOXP3+ Tregs.

Keywords: CSF-1R; GVHD; IL-34; Treg; cell therapy; monocyte; tolerance; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology*
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Interleukins / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*


  • FOXP3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • IL34 protein, human
  • Interleukins
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Recombinant Proteins