Interleukin-12 (IL-12p70) promotes induction of highly potent Th1-like CD4(+)CD25(+)T regulatory cells that inhibit allograft rejection in unmodified recipients

Nirupama Darshan Verma, Bruce Milne Hall, Karren Michelle Plain, Catherine M. Robinson, Rochelle Boyd, Giang T. Tran, Chuanmin Wang, G. Alex Bishop, Suzanne J. Hodgkinson

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In rat models, CD4+CD25+ T regulatory cells (Treg) play a key role in the induction and maintenance of antigen-specific transplant tolerance, especially in DA rats with PVG cardiac allografts (1, 2). We have previously described generation of alloantigen-specific Treg (Ts1), by culture of naïve natural CD4+CD25+ Treg (nTreg) with specific alloantigen and IL-2 for 4 days. These cells express mRNA for IFN-γ receptor (ifngr) and suppress donor but not third party cardiac allograft rejection mediated by alloreactive CD4+ T cells at ratios of <1:10. Here, we show that Ts1 also expressed the IL-12p70 specific receptor (il-12rβ2) and that rIL-12p70 can induce their proliferation. Ts1 cells re-cultured with rIL-12p70 alone or rIL-12p70 and recombinant interleukin-2 (rIL-2), suppressed proliferation of CD4+ T cells in mixed lymphocyte culture at <1:1024, whereas Ts1 cells re-cultured with rIL-2 and alloantigen only suppressed at 1:32-64. The rIL-12p70 alloactivated Ts1 cells markedly delayed PVG, but not third party Lewis, cardiac allograft rejection in normal DA recipients. Ts1 cells re-cultured for 4 days with rIL-12p70 alone, but not those re-cultured with rIL-12p70 and rIL-2, expressed more il-12rβ2, t-bet, and ifn-γ, and continued to express the markers of Ts1 cells, foxp3, ifngr, and il-5 indicating Th1-like Treg were induced. Ts1 cells re-cultured with rIL-2 and alloantigen remained of the Ts1 phenotype and did not suppress cardiac graft rejection in normal DA rats. We induced highly suppressive Th1-like Treg from naïve nTreg in 7 days by culture with alloantigen, first with rIL-2 then with rIL-12p70. These Th1-like Treg delayed specific donor allograft rejection demonstrating therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • T regulatory cells
  • antigen-specific Treg
  • Th1-like Treg
  • allograft rejection
  • IL-12p70


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