Upregulated IL-7 receptor α expression on colitogenic memory CD4+ T cells may participate in the development and persistence of chronic colitis.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo 113-8519, Japan.
The Journal of Immunology (Impact Factor: 5.36). 02/2011; 186(4):2623-32. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1000057
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We have previously demonstrated that IL-7 is essential for the persistence of colitis as a survival factor of colitogenic IL-7Rα-expressing memory CD4(+) T cells. Because IL-7Rα is broadly expressed on various immune cells, it is possible that the persistence of colitogenic CD4(+) T cells is affected by other IL-7Rα-expressing non-T cells. To test this hypothesis, we conducted two adoptive transfer colitis experiments using IL-7Rα(-/-) CD4(+)CD25(-) donor cells and IL-7Rα(-/-) × RAG-2(-/-) recipient mice, respectively. First, IL-7Rα expression on colitic lamina propria (LP) CD4(+) T cells was significantly higher than on normal LP CD4(+) T cells, whereas expression on other colitic LP immune cells, (e.g., NK cells, macrophages, myeloid dendritic cells) was conversely lower than that of paired LP cells in normal mice, resulting in predominantly higher expression of IL-7Rα on colitogenic LP CD4(+) cells, which allows them to exclusively use IL-7. Furthermore, RAG-2(-/-) mice transferred with IL-7Rα(-/-) CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells did not develop colitis, although LP CD4(+) T cells from mice transferred with IL-7Rα(-/-) CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells were differentiated to CD4(+)CD44(high)CD62L(-) effector-memory T cells. Finally, IL-7Rα(-/-) × RAG-2(-/-) mice transferred with CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells developed colitis similar to RAG-2(-/-) mice transferred with CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells. These results suggest that IL-7Rα expression on colitogenic CD4(+) T cells, but not on other cells, is essential for the development of chronic colitis. Therefore, therapeutic approaches targeting the IL-7/IL-7R signaling pathway in colitogenic CD4(+) T cells may be feasible for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

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