Calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs), used as immunosuppressants, have revolutionized transplantation medicine with their strong suppressive activity on alloreactive T lymphocytes; however, they may also cause various adverse effects, including an increased risk for infection and nephrotoxicity. Regulatory T (Treg) cells can complement the deleterious side effects of CNIs with their effective Ag-specific suppressive activities. However, several studies have shown that CNIs suppress Treg cell differentiation. Therefore, an understanding of the mechanisms by which CNIs suppress Treg cell differentiation, as well as an approach for promoting the differentiation of Treg cells in the presence of CNIs, has significant clinical value. In this article, we report that the nuclear orphan receptor Nr4a1 plays a pivotal role in Treg cell differentiation in the presence of CNIs. Unlike that of its family members, Nr4a2 and Nr4a3, the expression of Nr4a1 was not suppressed by CNI treatment, thereby mediating Treg cell differentiation in the presence of CNIs. In a mouse allogeneic graft-versus-host disease model, Nr4a1 mediated tolerance by promoting Treg cell differentiation in mice administered cyclosporine A, prolonging the survival of recipients. Furthermore, activation of Nr4a1 via its agonist partially restored Treg cell differentiation, which was suppressed by cyclosporine A treatment. Finally, we found that the rs2701129 single-nucleotide polymorphism, which was shown to downregulate NR4A1 expression, showed a trend toward a higher incidence of chronic graft-versus-host disease in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Therefore, our study will be of clinical significance because we demonstrated the role of Nr4a1 in Treg cell differentiation in the presence of CNIs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy