Removing Inflammatory Regulatory T Cells Reverses Aspects of Heart Failure in Mice

The progression of heart failure following a heart attack is driven by sustained levels of chronic inflammation. Researchers have now demonstrated the importance of this inflammation through the targeted removal of a critical population of T cells in mice, cells that become inappropriately inflammatory after injury to heart tissue. This selective destruction of immune cells produces a reversal of detrimental remodeling of heart muscle, as well as improvement in other inflammation-linked aspects of heart failure, such as fibrosis in heart tissue. Interestingly, this approach seems to result in lasting effects, as the replacement T cells, newly generated by the body, do not provoke further inflammation. All in all, this is a very promising set of data.

A heart attack triggers an acute inflammatory response, followed by resolution of inflammation and wound healing. A severe heart attack, however, can cause chronic and sustained inflammation that leads to heart failure and death. Researchers have found that a group of immune cells called regulatory T-lymphocyte cells, or T-regs, appear to go rogue in heart failure. Instead of their normal job to resolve inflammation, the dysfunctional T-reg cells become pro-inflammatory and prevent the growth of new capillaries. Experimental removal of those dysfunctional T-reg cells from heart-failure mice acted as a reset button to reverse heart failure, and the replacement T-regs that the mice produced resolved inflammation.

In a previous study, researchers had seen that CD4+ T-cells - which include T-regs - were globally expanded and activated in mouse heart failure, and there was persistent inflammation and activation of effector T cells, despite the increased numbers of T-reg cells that normally should help resolve inflammation. This led to the hypothesis for the present work - that the T-reg cells in heart failure themselves become dysfunctional, pro-inflammatory and tissue-injurious, and that that altered phenotype contributes to sustained inflammation and the pathologic enlargement of the heart's main pumping chamber. Such enlargement is known as left-ventricular remodeling.

The current study shows that dysfunctional T-reg cells are essential for adverse left-ventricular remodeling. Researchers selectively ablated the dysfunctional T-reg cells four weeks after heart failure. Ablation was accomplished by giving diphtheria toxin to genetically engineered mice that have the diphtheria toxin receptor inserted into T cells at the Foxp3 gene site, or by giving the mice anti-CD25 antibodies. T-reg ablation reversed left-ventricular remodeling over the next four weeks. Also, ablation with antibody halted further increase in left-ventricular remodeling, while remodeling in the heart failure mice given a non-specific antibody continued to worsen. Ablation alleviated fibrosis and systemic inflammation in the heart, and it enhanced growth of new capillaries.

Importantly, the new T-reg cells produced by the mice after an ablation pulse were no longer pro-inflammatory - instead, they showed restoration of normal T-reg immunosuppressive capacity. Thus, ablation of the pathogenic and dysfunctional T-reg cells acted, in effect, as a reset that restored the mouse T-reg cells back to their normal immunomodulatory function.

Link: https://www.uab.edu/news/research/item/9733-a-reset-of-regulatory-t-cells-reverses-chronic-heart-failure-in-mouse-model


It is a very promising area. For a heart attract victim , it means that even later treatments, not only the first couple of hours, can lead to good recovery. Ablating the time cells might leave the whole body immunocompromised, though. As a softer approach one child deliver immunosuppressants and anti inflammatory drugs as a slow release patch in a stent and next to the heart.
Now the question is how one can devise a safe human study, without compromising the immune system of people who might have Co morbidity infections.
Probably injecting rapamycin as soon as blood thinners is a good approximation. Not invasive alone, and relatively safe and can be stopped if needed...

Posted by: Cuberat at September 13th, 2018 5:31 AM

Sorry for the terrible auto correct above

Posted by: Cuberat at September 13th, 2018 5:32 AM

I wonder where this is going. I can not imagine injecting a toxin into a human to destroy the TReg cells. To much of a chance of creating immune system dysregulation.

Posted by: JohnD at September 14th, 2018 8:23 AM

It sounds very encouraging to me, with possible application to a number of other conditions. The diptheria toxin is only effective in genetically engineered mice; in humans a therapy could be based on the other method used, anti-CD25 antibodies (or perhaps by some means of transiently upregulating Foxp3?). The big worry would be increased cancer risk, though if the therapy is a one-time thing - like hitting a reset button - maybe not.

Posted by: CD at September 14th, 2018 11:21 AM

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