Human natural regulatory T cell development, suppressive function, and postthymic maturation in a humanized mouse model.
ABSTRACT: CD4(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs) control adaptive immune responses and promote self-tolerance. Various humanized mouse models have been developed in efforts to reproduce and study a human immune system. However, in models that require T cell differentiation in the recipient murine thymus, only low numbers of T cells populate the peripheral immune systems. T cells are positively selected by mouse MHC and therefore do not function well in an HLA-restricted manner. In contrast, cotransplantation of human fetal thymus/liver and i.v. injection of CD34(+) cells from the same donor achieves multilineage human lymphohematopoietic reconstitution, including dendritic cells and formation of secondary lymphoid organs, in NOD/SCID mice. Strong Ag-specific immune responses and homeostatic expansion of human T cells that are dependent on peripheral human APCs occur. We now demonstrate that FOXP3(+)Helios(+) "natural" Tregs develop normally in human fetal thymic grafts and are present in peripheral blood, spleen, and lymph nodes of these humanized mice. Humanized mice exhibit normal reversal of CD45 isoform expression in association with thymic egress, postthymic "naive" to "activated" phenotypic conversion, and suppressive function. These studies demonstrate the utility of this humanized mouse model for the study of human Treg ontogeny, immunobiology and therapy.
Project description:Thymic involution is an important factor leading to the aging of the immune system. Most of what we know regarding thymic aging comes from mouse models, and the nature of the thymic aging process in humans remains largely unexplored due to the lack of a model system that permits longitudinal studies of human thymic involution. In this study, we sought to explore the potential to examine human thymic involution in humanized mice, constructed by transplantation of fetal human thymus and CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells into immunodeficient mice. In these humanized mice, the human thymic graft first underwent acute recoverable involution caused presumably by transplantation stress, followed by an age-related chronic form of involution. Although both the early recoverable and later age-related thymic involution were associated with a decrease in thymic epithelial cells and recent thymic emigrants, only the latter was associated with an increase in adipose tissue mass in the thymus. Furthermore, human thymic grafts showed a dramatic reduction in FOXN1 and AIRE expression by 10 weeks post-transplantation. This study indicates that human thymus retains its intrinsic mechanisms of aging and susceptibility to stress-induced involution when transplanted into immunodeficient mice, offering a potentially useful in vivo model to study human thymic involution and to test therapeutic interventions.
Project description:Transplantation of xenogeneic thymus tissue allows xenograft tolerance induction in the highly disparate pig-to-mouse model. Fetal swine thymus (SW THY) can support the generation of a diverse human T cell repertoire that is tolerant of the pig in vitro. We demonstrate that SW THY generates all human T cell subsets, including regulatory T cells (Tregs), in similar numbers as fetal human thymus (HU THY) grafts in immunodeficient mice receiving the same human CD34(+) cells. Peripheral T cells are specifically tolerant to the mouse and to the human and porcine donors, with robust responses to nondonor human and pig Ags. Specific tolerance is observed to pig skin grafts sharing the THY donor MHC. SW THY-generated peripheral Tregs show similar function, but include lower percentages of naive-type Tregs compared with HU THY-generated Tregs. Tregs contribute to donor-pig specific tolerance. Peripheral human T cells generated in SW THY exhibit reduced proportions of CD8(+) T cells and reduced lymphopenia-driven proliferation and memory-type conversion, accelerated decay of memory-type cells, and reduced responses to protein Ags. Thus, SW thymus transplantation is a powerful xenotolerance approach for human T cells. However, immune function may be further enhanced by strategies to permit positive selection by autologous HLA molecules.
Project description:The humanized pig model, in which human cells or tissues can be functionally maintained in pigs, can be an invaluable tool for human medical research. Although the recent development of immunodeficient pigs has opened the door for the development of such a model, the efficient engraftment and differentiation of human cells may be difficult to achieve. The transplantation of human cells into fetal pigs, whose immune system is immature, will ameliorate this problem. Therefore, we examined the development of porcine fetal thymus, which is critical for the establishment of the immune system. We first analyzed the levels of mRNA expression of genes that are relevant to the function of thymic epithelial cells or thymocytes in whole thymi from 35 to 85 days of gestation (DG) and at 2 days postpartum (DP) by quantitative RT-PCR. In addition, immunohistochemical analyses of thymic epithelial cells from DG35 to DG55 and DP2 were performed. These analyses showed that the thymic cortex was formed as early as DG35, and thymic medulla gradually developed from DG45 to DG55. These findings suggested that, at least before DG45, the thymus do not differentiate to form fully functional T cells.
Project description:The thymus plays a fundamental role in establishing and maintaining central and peripheral tolerance and defects in thymic architecture or AIRE expression result in the development of autoreactive lymphocytes. Patients with partial DiGeorge Syndrome (pDGS) and Down Syndrome (DS) present alterations in size and architecture of the thymus and higher risk to develop autoimmunity. We sought to evaluate thymic architecture and thymocyte development in DGS and DS patients and to determine the extent to which thymic defects result in immune dysregulation and T cell homeostasis perturbation in these patients. Thymi from pediatric patients and age-matched controls were obtained to evaluate cortex and medullary compartments, AIRE expression and thymocyte development. In the same patients we also characterized immunophenotype of peripheral T cells. Phenotypic and functional characterization of thymic and peripheral regulatory T (Treg) cells was finally assessed. Histologic analysis revealed peculiar alterations in thymic medulla size and maturation in DGS and DS patients. Perturbed distribution of thymocytes and altered thymic output was also observed. DGS patients showed lower mature CD4<sup>+</sup> and CD8<sup>+</sup> T cell frequency, associated with reduced proportion and function of Tregs both in thymus and peripheral blood. DS patients showed increased frequency of single positive (SP) thymocytes and thymic Treg cells. However, Tregs isolated both from thymus and peripheral blood of DS patients showed reduced suppressive ability. Our results provide novel insights on thymic defects associated with DGS and DS and their impact on peripheral immune dysregulation. Indeed, thymic abnormalities and defect in thymocyte development, in particular in Treg cell number and function could contribute in the pathogenesis of the immunodysregulation present in pDGS and in DS patients.
Project description:Studies of human immune diseases are generally limited to the analysis of peripheral blood lymphocytes of heterogeneous patient populations. Improved models are needed to allow analysis of fundamental immunologic abnormalities predisposing to disease and in which to assess immunotherapies. Immunodeficient mice receiving human fetal thymus grafts and fetal CD34(+) cells intravenously produce robust human immune systems, allowing analysis of human T cell development and function. However, to use humanized mice to study human immune-mediated disorders, immune systems must be generated from adult hematopoietic cells. Here, we demonstrated robust immune reconstitution in mice with hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) aspirated from bone marrow of adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and healthy control volunteers. In these humanized mice, cryopreservation of human leukocyte antigen allele-matched fetal thymic tissue prevented allogeneic adult HSC rejection. Newly generated T cells, which included regulatory T cells (T(regs)), were functional and self-tolerant and had a diverse repertoire. The immune recognition of these mice mimicked that of the adult CD34(+) cell donor, but the T cell phenotypes were more predominantly "naïve" than those of the adult donors. HSCs from T1D and control donors generated similar numbers of natural T(regs) intrathymically; however, peripheral T cells from T1D subjects showed increased proportions of activated or memory cells compared to controls, suggesting possible HSC-intrinsic differences in T cell homeostasis that might underlie immune pathology in T1D. This "personalized immune" mouse provides a new model for individualized analysis of human immune responses that may provide new insights into not only T1D but also other forms of immune function and dysfunction as well.
Project description:Humanized mice represent an important model to study the development and function of the human immune system. While it is known that mouse thymic stromal cells can support human T-cell development, the extent of interspecies cross-talk and the degree to which these systems recapitulate normal human T-cell development remain unclear. To address these questions, we compared conventional and non-conventional T-cell development in a neonatal chimera humanized mouse model with that seen in human fetal and neonatal thymus samples, and also examined the impact of a human HLA-A2 transgene expressed by the mouse stroma. Given that dynamic migration and cell-cell interactions are essential for T-cell differentiation, we also studied the intrathymic migration pattern of human thymocytes developing in a murine thymic environment. We found that both conventional T-cell development and intra-thymic migration patterns in humanized mice closely resemble human thymopoiesis. Additionally, we show that developing human thymocytes engage in short, serial interactions with other human hematopoietic-derived cells. However, non-conventional T-cell differentiation in humanized mice differed from both fetal and neonatal human thymopoiesis, including a marked deficiency of Foxp3(+) T-cell development. These data suggest that although the murine thymic microenvironment can support a number of aspects of human T-cell development, important differences remain, and additional human-specific factors may be required.
Project description:This study tested the hypothesis that besides the spleen, LNs, peripheral blood, and thymus contain a regulatory IL-10-producing CD19(+)CD5(+)CD1d(high) B cell subset that may play a critical role in the maintenance of immune homeostasis. Indeed, this population was identified in the murine thymus, and furthermore, when cocultured with CD4(+) T cells, this population of B cells supported the maintenance of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs in vitro, in part, via the CD5-CD72 interaction. Mice homozygous for Cd19(Cre) (CD19(-/-)) express B cells with impaired signaling and humoral responses. Strikingly, CD19(-/-) mice produce fewer CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs and a greater percentage of CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(+) T cells. Consistent with these results, transfer of thymic CD19(+)CD5(+)CD1d(hi) B cells into CD19(-/-) mice resulted in significantly up-regulated numbers of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs with a concomitant reduction in CD4(+)CD8(-) and CD4(-)CD8(+) T cell populations in the thymus, spleen, and LNs but not in the BM of recipient mice. In addition, thymic CD19(+)CD5(+)CD1d(hi) B cells significantly suppressed autoimmune responses in lupus-like mice via up-regulation of CD4(+)Foxp3(+) Tregs and IL-10-producing Bregs. This study suggests that thymic CD19(+)CD5(+)CD1d(hi)IL-10(+) Bregs play a critical role in the maintenance of immune homeostasis.
Project description:Regulatory T cells are critical for the generation and maintenance of peripheral tolerance. Conditional deletion of the transcriptional repressor NKAP in Tregs using Foxp3-YFP-cre NKAP conditional knockout mice causes aggressive autoimmunity characterized by thymic atrophy, lymphadenopathy, peripheral T cell activation, generation of autoantibodies, immune infiltration into several organs, and crusty skin at 3 weeks of age, similar to that of "scurfy" Foxp3-mutant mice. While Treg development in the thymus proceeds normally in the absence of NKAP, there is a severe loss of thymically-derived Tregs in the periphery. NKAP-deficient Tregs have a recent thymic emigrant phenotype, and are attacked by complement in a cell-intrinsic manner in the periphery. Previously, we demonstrated that NKAP is required for conventional T cell maturation as it prevents complement-mediated attack in the periphery. We now show that Tregs undergo a similar maturation process as conventional T cells, requiring NKAP to acquire complement resistance after thymic egress.
Project description:Here, we describe the NeoThy humanized mouse model created using non-fetal human tissue sources, cryopreserved neonatal thymus and umbilical cord blood hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Conventional humanized mouse models are made by engrafting human fetal thymus and HSCs into immunocompromised mice. These mice harbor functional human T cells that have matured in the presence of human self-peptides and human leukocyte antigen molecules. Neonatal thymus tissue is more abundant and developmentally mature and allows for creation of up to ?50-fold more mice per donor compared with fetal tissue models. The NeoThy has equivalent frequencies of engrafted human immune cells compared with fetal tissue humanized mice and exhibits T cell function in assays of ex vivo cell proliferation, interferon ? secretion, and in vivo graft infiltration. The NeoThy model may provide significant advantages for induced pluripotent stem cell immunogenicity studies, while bypassing the requirement for fetal tissue.
Project description:Pregnancy establishment and maintenance represents a challenge for the maternal immune system because it has to be alert against pathogens while tolerating paternal alloantigens expressed in fetal structures. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are important for successful implantation and involved in allotolerance towards paternal antigens. The origin and mechanisms leading to Treg generation during pregnancy at different stages remain under discussion. We report an accumulation of Helios(+) Tregs in thymus and in the lymph nodes draining the uterus at early pregnancy. At later pregnancy stages an expanded population of Foxp3(+) Tregs was generated in the periphery as we showed in a Rag-1(-/-) model of cell transfer. Our data suggest that Tregs, predominantly of thymic origin, are needed for pregnancy establishment. At later pregnancy stages an extra thymic Treg population contributes to the Treg pool in the periphery. Our data provides new insights in the origin of Tregs during pregnancy that are essential to understand natural mechanisms of tolerance acquisition.