Research ArticleMuscular Dystrophy

Regulatory T cells suppress muscle inflammation and injury in muscular dystrophy

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Oct 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 258, pp. 258ra142
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009925

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Abstract

We examined the hypothesis that regulatory T cells (Tregs) modulate muscle injury and inflammation in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Although Tregs were largely absent in the muscle of wild-type mice and normal human muscle, they were present in necrotic lesions, displayed an activated phenotype, and showed increased expression of interleukin-10 (IL-10) in dystrophic muscle from mdx mice. Depletion of Tregs exacerbated muscle injury and the severity of muscle inflammation, which was characterized by an enhanced interferon-γ (IFN-γ) response and activation of M1 macrophages. To test the therapeutic value of targeting Tregs in muscular dystrophy, we treated mdx mice with IL-2/anti–IL-2 complexes and found that Tregs and IL-10 concentrations were increased in muscle, resulting in reduced expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and decreased myofiber injury. These findings suggest that Tregs modulate the progression of muscular dystrophy by suppressing type 1 inflammation in muscle associated with muscle fiber injury, and highlight the potential of Treg-modulating agents as therapeutics for DMD.

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