Expansion of CD4(+)CD25 (+) regulatory T cells from cord blood CD4(+) cells using the common γ-chain cytokines (IL-2 and IL-15) and rapamycin

Shinsuke Asanuma, Junji Tanaka, Junichi Sugita, Mizuha Kosugi, Souichi Shiratori, Kentarou Wakasa, Yusuke Shono, Akio Shigematsu, Takeshi Kondo, Takahiko Kobayashi, Masahiro Asaka, Masahiro Imamura
Annals of Hematology 2011, 90 (6): 617-24
Rapamycin has important roles in the modulation of regulatory T cells. We tried to expand CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cells (Treg cells) from umbilical cord blood (CB) CD4-positive cells using interleukin (IL)-15 or IL-2 with transforming growth factor (TGF)-β and rapamycin. We were able to obtain more than 500-fold expansion of CD4(+)CD25(+) cells from CB CD4(+) cells using IL-15 and TGF-β with rapamycin. These expanded CD4(+)CD25(+) cells expressed forkhead box P3 (FoxP3) mRNA at a level about 100-fold higher and could suppress allogeneic mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) by more than 50%. Early after rapamycin stimulation, CB CD4(+) cells showed increased expression of FoxP3 and a serine/threonine kinase Pim2 and sustained expression of negative phosphoinositide 3-kinase regulator phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN). On the other hand, CD4(+)CD25(+) cells expanded with rapamycin for 8 days showed much higher levels of FoxP3 mRNA expression and decreased expression of PTEN. A comparison of IL-15 stimulation and IL-2 stimulation showed slightly higher efficiency of IL-15 for expansion of CD4(+)CD25(+) cells, and for FoxP3 expression, IL-15 also showed significantly higher efficacy for inhibition of MLC. The combination of the common γ-chain cytokine IL-15, TGF-β, and rapamycin may be a useful means for expanding Treg cells. Pim2 expression early after stimulation with rapamycin may be important for conferring rapamycin resistance for growth of Treg cells. IL-15 is not less useful than IL-2 for expansion of Treg cells.

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