Tolerogenic dendritic cells generated with dexamethasone and vitamin D3 regulate rheumatoid arthritis CD4+ T cells partly via transforming growth factor-β1

A. E. Anderson (Lead / Corresponding author), D. J. Swan, O. Y. Wong, M. Buck, O. Eltherington, R. A. Harry, A. M. Patterson, A. G. Pratt, G. Reynolds, J. P. Doran, J. A. Kirby, J. D. Isaacs, C. M U Hilkens

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Tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDC) are a new immunotherapeutic tool for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune disorders. We have established a method to generate stable tolDC by pharmacological modulation of human monocyte-derived DC. These tolDC exert potent pro-tolerogenic actions on CD4+ T cells. Lack of interleukin (IL)-12p70 production is a key immunoregulatory attribute of tolDC but does not explain their action fully. Here we show that tolDC express transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 at both mRNA and protein levels, and that expression of this immunoregulatory cytokine is significantly higher in tolDC than in mature monocyte-derived DC. By inhibiting TGF-β1 signalling we demonstrate that tolDC regulate CD4+ T cell responses in a manner that is at least partly dependent upon this cytokine. Crucially, we also show that while there is no significant difference in expression of TGF-βRII on CD4+ T cells from RA patients and healthy controls, RA patient CD4+ T cells are measurably less responsive to TGF-β1 than healthy control CD4+ T cells [reduced TGF-β-induced mothers against decapentaplegic homologue (Smad)2/3 phosphorylation, forkhead box protein 3 (FoxP3) expression and suppression of (IFN)-γ secretion]. However, CD4+ T cells from RA patients can, nonetheless, be regulated efficiently by tolDC in a TGF-β1-dependent manner. This work is important for the design and development of future studies investigating the potential use of tolDC as a novel immunotherapy for the treatment of RA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Regulation
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • TGF-β1
  • Tolerogenic dendritic cells

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