Essential Role of Program Death 1-Ligand 1 in Regulatory T-Cell–Afforded Protection Against Blood–Brain Barrier Damage After Stroke
Background and Purpose—Our recent research revealed that adoptively transferred regulatory T cells (Tregs) reduced acute ischemic brain injury by inhibiting neutrophil-derived matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and protecting against blood–brain barrier damage. The mechanisms underlying Treg interactions with neutrophils remain elusive. This study evaluates the contribution of program death 1-ligand 1 (PD-L1) to Treg-mediated neutrophil inhibition and neuroprotection after cerebral ischemia.
Methods—In vitro experiments were performed using a transwell system or a coculture system allowing cell-to-cell contact. Focal cerebral ischemia was induced in mice for 60 minutes. Tregs (2×106) isolated from donor animals (wild-type or PD-L1–/–) were intravenously injected into ischemic recipients 2 hours after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). MMP-9 production, blood–brain barrier permeability, and brain infarct were assessed at 1 or 3 days after MCAO.
Results—In vitro experiments reveal that Treg-mediated inhibition of neutrophil MMP-9 required direct cell-to-cell contact. The suppression of MMP-9 was abolished when Tregs were pretreated with PD-L1 neutralizing antibodies or when neutrophils were pretreated with PD-1 antibodies. In vivo studies confirmed that intravenous administration of Tregs pretreated with PD-L1 antibodies or Tregs isolated from PD-L1–deficient mice failed to inhibit MMP-9 production by blood neutrophils 1 day after 60 minutes MCAO. Furthermore, the blood–brain barrier damage after MCAO was greatly ameliorated in PD-L1–competent Treg-treated mice but not in PD-L1–compromised Treg-treated mice. Consequently, PD-L1 dysfunction abolished Treg-mediated brain protection and neurological improvements 3 days after MCAO.
Conclusions—PD-L1 plays an essential role in the neuroprotection afforded by Tregs against cerebral ischemia by mediating the suppressive effect of Tregs on neutrophil-derived MMP-9.
- Received November 14, 2013.
- Revision received December 21, 2013.
- Accepted January 6, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.