T lymphocytes (T cells) are the main immune cells that play a central role in protecting us from pathogens. However, T cell responses must be tightly controlled, because uncontrolled responses often result in inflammatory diseases in human. One key mechanism that regulate immune responses is a subset of T cells known as regulatory T cell (Treg). Treg are essential component of the immune system. Treg suppress immune responses, diminishing inflammation. Defects in Treg generation or function result in systemic autoimmune diseases in human and mouse leading to premature death. Therefore, understanding Treg biology is an important subject of investigation. In my laboratory, we investigate factors that regulate Treg function. If Treg functions are too strong, then immune system is overly suppressed. On the other hand, if Treg functions are too weak, then the immune system is overly activated. There is accumulating evidence that chronic inflammatory disorders such as autoimmune diseases and asthma are manifested by dysregulated Treg functions. Using mouse model of chronic inflammation models, we examine both cellular and molecular mechanisms by which Treg functions can be modulated. In particular, we use: Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, a mouse model for human Multiple Sclerosis; T cell-induced colitis, a mouse model for human Inflammatory Bowel Disease; and allergic airway inflammation, a mouse model for human asthma. Our ongoing studies have identified that a soluble immune mediator called “Interleukin-27” is essential for Treg to properly regulate inflammation. Using a newly developed genetically engineered mouse model in which the receptor for “Interleukin-27” is selectively missing only on Treg, we found that these animals are highly susceptible to every inflammatory models tested. Furthermore, if Treg are pre-stimulated with “Interleukin-27”, they become highly potent suppressor cells. This is especially exciting because Treg infusion therapy is currently being implemented in treating chronic inflammatory diseases in human.
In other words ...
- Roles of regulatory T cells in chronic inflammatory diseases
Kim, D., Q.T. Nguyen, J. Lee, S.H. Lee, S. Kim, K. Kaslar, N. Dvorina, K. Weiss, K. Asosingh, S.C. Erzurum, W.M. Baldwin, J-S. Lee, and B. Min. (2020). Foxp3+ regulatory T cells mediate glucocorticoid-induced treatment via a miR342-dependent metabolic reprogramming. Immunity In Press.
Le, H.T., K. Kaslar, Q.T. Nguyen, B.R. Blazar, B.K. Hamilton, and B. Min. (2020). Interleukin-27 enforces regulatory T cell functions to prevent graft versus host diseases. Front. Immunol. In Press.
He, Y.#, J. Shi#, Q.T. Nguyen#, E. You, H. Liu, X. Ren, J. Li, W. Qiu, S.K. Khoo, T. Yang, W. Yi, X. Huang, K. Melcher, B. Min*, and H.E. Xu*. (2019). Development of novel highly potent glucocorticoids for steroid-resistant severe asthma. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA116:6932-6937.
Kim, D., Q.T. Nguyen, S. Kim, J. Lee, and B. Min. (2019). Cutting Edge: IL-27 attenuates autoimmune neuroinflammation via Treg/Lag3-dependent but IL-10-independent mechanisms in vivo. J. Immunol. 202:1680-1685.
Q. T. Nguyen, E. Jang, H. T. Le, S. Kim, D. Kim, N. Dvorina, M. A. Aronica, W. M. Baldwin III, K. Asosingh, S. Comhair, and B. Min. (2019). IL-27 targets Foxp3+ Tregs to mediate anti-inflammatory functions during experimental allergic airway inflammation. JCI Insight. 4(2). pii:123216.
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Heterogeneity and stability in Foxp3+ regulatory T cells. J. Interferon Cytokine Res. (2017). Epub ahead of print.
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A collaborative team of researchers led by Lerner Research Institute has published a new study in Immunity that offers key insights into how steroids function to control inflammatory diseases. The findings provide evidence of the vital role of regulatory T (Treg) cells in regulating inflammatory disorders such as asthma, multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.