Recent thymic emigrants are preferentially incorporated only into the depleted T-cell pool.
ABSTRACT: Recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) are the youngest subset of peripheral T cells, and they differ functionally and phenotypically from the rest of the naïve T-cell pool. RTEs are present in the peripheral T-cell pool throughout life but are the most common subset of T cells in neonates and adults recovering from lymphoablation. Using a murine model to study the homeostasis of RTEs, we show that under lymphoreplete conditions, RTEs are at a competitive disadvantage to already established mature naïve (MN) T cells. This disadvantage may be caused by a defect in survival, because RTEs may transduce homeostatic signals inefficiently, and their ability to survive is enhanced with increased expression of IL-7 receptor or B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2). Conversely, under lymphopenic conditions, enhanced proliferation by RTEs allows them to out-compete their MN T-cell counterparts. These results suggest that in times of need, such as in neonates or lymphopenic adults, RTEs perform well to fill the gaps in the peripheral T-cell pool, but when the periphery already is full, many RTEs are not incorporated into the pool of recirculating lymphocytes.
Project description:After intrathymic development, T cells exit the thymus and join the peripheral T-cell pool. Such recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) undergo both phenotypic and functional maturation during the first 3 weeks they reside in the periphery. Using a well-controlled in vitro polarization scheme, we now show that CD4(+) RTEs are defective in T-helper (Th) type 0 (Th0), Th1, Th17, and regulatory T-cell lineage commitment, with dampened cytokine production and transcription factor expression. In contrast, CD4(+) RTES are biased toward the Th2 lineage both in vitro and in vivo, with more robust interleukin-4, interleukin-5, and interleukin-13 production than their mature naive counterparts. Coculture experiments demonstrate that mature naive T cells influence neighboring RTEs in their Th responses. In adoptive hosts, CD4(+) RTEs drive production of the Th2-associated antibody isotype immunoglobulin G1 and mediate airway inflammatory disease. This bias in RTEs likely results from dampened negative regulation of the Th2 lineage by diminished levels of T-bet, a key Th1 transcription factor. CD4(+) RTEs thus represent a transitional population with a distinct interpretation of, and response to, immunologic cues. These characteristics may be beneficial during the postthymic maturation period by leading to the avoidance of inappropriate immune responses, particularly in lymphopenic neonates and adults.
Project description:Lymphopenia enhances the effectiveness of adoptive immunotherapy by facilitating expansion of transferred T cells but also limits the T-cell repertoire available to mediate immune responses and, in humans, is associated with chronic immune dysfunction. Previous studies concluded that lymphopenia augments adoptive immunotherapy by diminishing Tregs and increasing homeostatic cytokines. We sought to determine whether targeted therapies that replicate the physiology of lymphopenia in lymphoreplete hosts could provide a similarly supportive milieu. Pmel-1 T cells were transferred to B16-bearing lymphopenic versus lymphoreplete mice receiving alphaCD25 and/or recombinant human interleukin-7. Although CD25-based Treg depletion was inefficient because of peripheral expansion of CD4+CD25-FOXP3+ cells, outcomes were better in alphaCD25-treated lymphoreplete hosts than in lymphopenic hosts, and adoptive immunotherapy was most effective in lymphoreplete hosts receiving alphaCD25 plus recombinant human interleukin-7. Lymphopenic hosts supported increased proliferation of adoptively transferred antigen-specific T cells, but cells transferred to lymphoreplete recipients receiving targeted therapies showed superior function. Further, determinant spreading was substantial in lymphoreplete hosts but absent in lymphopenic hosts. These results demonstrate that targeted therapies delivered to mimic the "physiology of lymphopenia" enhance the efficacy of adoptive immunotherapy in lymphoreplete hosts and provide a potentially superior alternative to the induction of lymphopenia.
Project description:Recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) represent a source of antigen-naïve T cells that enter the periphery throughout life. However, whether RTEs contribute to the control of chronic parasitic infection and how their potential might be harnessed by therapeutic intervention is currently unclear. Here, we show that CD4+ recent thymic emigrants emerging into the periphery of mice with ongoing Leishmania donovani infection undergo partial activation and are recruited to sites of granulomatous inflammation. However, CD4+ RTEs displayed severely restricted differentiation either into IFN?+ or IFN?+TNF?+ effectors, or into IL-10-producing regulatory T cells. Effector cell differentiation in the chronically infected host was not promoted by adoptive transfer of activated dendritic cells or by allowing extended periods of post-thymic differentiation in the periphery. Nevertheless, CD4+ RTEs from infected mice retained the capacity to transfer protection into lymphopenic RAG2-/- mice. Taken together, our data indicate that RTEs emerging into a chronically inflamed environment are not recruited into the effector pool, but retain the capacity for subsequent differentiation into host protective T cells when placed in a disease-free environment.
Project description:The peripheral naive T-cell pool is generally thought to consist of a subpopulation of recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) and a subpopulation of mature naive (MN) T cells with different dynamics. Thymus transplantation and adoptive transfer studies in mice have provided contradicting results, with some studies suggesting that RTEs are relatively short-lived cells, while another study suggested that RTEs have a survival advantage. We here estimate the death rates of RTE and MN T cells by performing both thymus transplantations and deuterium labeling experiments in mice of at least 12?weeks old, an age at which the size of the T-cell pool has stabilized. For CD4+ T cells, we found the total loss rate from the RTE compartment (by death and maturation) to be fourfold faster than that of MN T cells. We estimate the death rate of CD4+ RTE to be 0.046 per day, which is threefold faster than the total loss rate from the MN T-cell compartment. For CD8+ T cells, we found no evidence for kinetic differences between RTE and MN T cells. Thus, our data support the notion that in young adult mice, CD4+ RTE are relatively short-lived cells within the naive CD4+ T-cell pool.
Project description:In mice, recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) make up a large part of the naïve T cell pool and have been suggested to be a distinct short-lived pool. In humans, however, the life span and number of RTEs are unknown. Although (2)H(2)O labeling in young mice showed high thymic-dependent daily naïve T cell production, long term up- and down-labeling with (2)H(2)O in human adults revealed a low daily production of naïve T cells. Using mathematical modeling, we estimated human naïve CD4 and CD8 T cell half-lives of 4.2 and 6.5 years, respectively, whereas memory CD4 and CD8 T cells had half-lives of 0.4 and 0.7 year. The estimated half-life of recently produced naïve T cells was much longer than these average half-lives. Thus, our data are incompatible with a substantial short-lived RTE population in human adults and suggest that the few naïve T cells that are newly produced are preferentially incorporated in the peripheral pool.
Project description:Most Forkhead box P3(+) (Foxp3(+)) CD4 regulatory T cell (Treg) precursors are newly formed thymocytes that acquire Foxp3 expression on antigen encounter in the thymus. Differentiation of Treg, however, can also occur in the periphery. What limits this second layer of self- and nonself-reactive Treg production in physiological conditions remains to be understood. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that, similarly to thymic Treg, the precursors of peripheral Treg are immature T cells. We show that CD4(+)CD8(-)Foxp3(-) thymocytes and recent thymic emigrants (RTEs), contrarily to peripheral naïve mature cells, efficiently differentiate into Treg on transfer into lymphopenic mice. By varying donor and recipient mice and conducting ex vivo assays, we document that the preferential conversion of newly formed T cells does not require intrathymic preactivation, is cell-intrinsic, and correlates with low and high sensitivity to natural inhibitors and inducers of Foxp3 expression, such as IL-6, T-cell receptor triggering, and TGF-?. Finally, ex vivo analysis of human thymocytes and peripheral blood T cells revealed that human RTE and newly developed T cells share an increased potential to acquire a FOXP3(bright)CD25(high) Treg phenotype. Our findings indicating that RTEs are the precursors of Tregs differentiated in the periphery should guide the design of Treg-based therapies.
Project description:Genomewide microarray analysis of murine tolerant, self-antigen specific CD8 T cells to identify genes and pathways underlying peripheral T cell tolerance Gene signature of tolerant CD8 T cells was compared to the signatures of naïve T cells, memory T cells, rescued T cells (=tolerant T cells undergoing homeostatic proliferation in lymphopenic, tolerogenic Alb:GAG mice), and re-tolerized T cells (=previously rescued T cells post homeostatic proliferation isolated from lymphoreplete wild-type B6 mice). Total RNA obtained from various sort-purified transgenic CD8 T cell subsets (naïve, memory, tolerant, rescued, and re-tolerized) isolated from spleens of different host mice
Project description:Naïve and memory T cells co-exist in the peripheral T cell pool, but the cellular mechanisms that maintain the balance and homeostasis of these two populations remain mostly unclear. To address this question, here, we assessed homeostatic proliferation and repopulation kinetics of adoptively transferred naïve and memory T cells in lymphopenic host mice. We identified distinct kinetics of proliferation and tissue-distribution between naïve and memory donor T cells, which resulted in the occupancy of the peripheral T cell pool by mostly naïve-origin T cells in short term (<1 week), but, in a dramatic reversal, by mostly memory-origin T cells in long term (>4 weeks). To explain this finding, we assessed utilization of the homeostatic cytokines IL-7 and IL-15 by naïve and memory T cells. We found different efficiencies of IL-7 signaling between naïve and memory T cells, where memory T cells expressed larger amounts of IL-7R? but were significantly less potent in activation of STAT5 that is downstream of IL-7 signaling. Nonetheless, memory T cells were superior in long-term repopulation of the peripheral T cell pool, presumably, because they preferentially migrated into non-lymphoid tissues upon adoptive transfer and additionally utilized tissue IL-15 for rapid expansion. Consequently, co-utilization of IL-7 and IL-15 provides memory T cells a long-term survival advantage. We consider this mechanism important, as it permits the memory T cell population to be maintained in face of constant influx of naïve T cells to the peripheral T cell pool and under competing conditions for survival cytokines.
Project description:Virtual memory cells (VM) are an antigen-specific, memory phenotype CD8 T-cell subset found in lymphoreplete, unchallenged mice. Previous studies indicated that VM cells were the result of homeostatic proliferation (HP) resembling the proliferation observed in a lymphopenic environment. Here we demonstrate that HP is ongoing in lymphoreplete mice, the degree of which is dictated by the number of naive CD8 T cells with a sufficiently high affinity for self-antigen interacting with peripheral IL-15. VM cell transcriptional profiles suggest a capacity to mediate protective immunity via antigen non-specific bystander killing, a function we show is dependent on IL-15. Finally, we show a VM-like population of human cells that accumulate with age and traffic to the liver, displaying phenotypic and functional attributes consistent with the bystander protective functions of VM cells identified in the mouse. These data identify developmental and functional attributes of VM cells, including their likely role in protective immunity.
Project description:Variable sensitivity to T-cell-receptor (TCR)- and IL-7-receptor (IL-7R)-mediated homeostatic signals among naïve T cells has thus far been largely attributed to differences in TCR specificity. We show here that even when withdrawn from self-peptide-induced TCR stimulation, CD8(+) T cells exhibit heterogeneous responses to interleukin-7 (IL-7) that are mechanistically associated with IL-7R expression differences that correlate with relative CD5 expression. Whereas CD5(hi) and CD5(lo) T cells survive equivalently in the presence of saturating IL-7 levels in vitro, CD5(hi) T cells proliferate more robustly. Conversely, CD5(lo) T cells exhibit prolonged survival when withdrawn from homeostatic stimuli. Through quantitative experimental analysis of signaling downstream of IL-7R, we find that the enhanced IL-7 responsiveness of CD5(hi) T cells is directly related to their greater surface IL-7R expression. Further, we identify a quantitative threshold in IL-7R-mediated signaling capacity required for proliferation that lies well above an analogous threshold requirement for survival. These distinct thresholds allow subtle differences in IL-7R expression between CD5(lo) and CD5(hi) T cells to give rise to significant variations in their respective IL-7-induced proliferation, without altering survival. Heterogeneous IL-7 responsiveness is observed similarly in vivo, with CD5(hi) naïve T cells proliferating preferentially in lymphopenic mice or lymphoreplete mice administered with exogenous IL-7. However, IL-7 in lymphoreplete mice appears to be maintained at an effective level for preserving homeostasis, such that neither CD5(hi) IL-7R(hi) nor CD5(lo) IL-7R(lo) T cells proliferate or survive preferentially. Our findings indicate that IL-7R-mediated signaling not only maintains the size but also impacts the diversity of the naïve T-cell repertoire.