Regulatory T cells promote myelin regeneration in the central nervous system

Yvonne Dombrowski, Thomas O'Hagan, Marie Dittmer, Rosana Penalva, Sonia R Mayoral, Peter Bankhead, Samara Fleville, Georgios Eleftheriadis, Chao Zhao, Michelle Naughton, Rachel Hassan, Jill Moffat, John Falconer, Amanda Boyd, Peter Hamilton, Ingrid V Allen, Adrien Kissenpfennig, Paul N Moynagh, Emma Evergren, Bernard PerbalAnna C Williams, Rebecca J Ingram, Jonah R Chan, Robin J M Franklin, Denise C Fitzgerald

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Regeneration of CNS myelin involves differentiation of oligodendrocytes from oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. In multiple sclerosis, remyelination can fail despite abundant oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, suggesting impairment of oligodendrocyte differentiation. T cells infiltrate the CNS in multiple sclerosis, yet little is known about T cell functions in remyelination. We report that regulatory T cells (Treg) promote oligodendrocyte differentiation and (re)myelination. Treg-deficient mice exhibited substantially impaired remyelination and oligodendrocyte differentiation, which was rescued by adoptive transfer of Treg. In brain slice cultures, Treg accelerated developmental myelination and remyelination, even in the absence of overt inflammation. Treg directly promoted oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation and myelination in vitro. We identified CCN3 as a Treg-derived mediator of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination in vitro. These findings reveal a new regenerative function of Treg in the CNS, distinct from immunomodulation. Although the cells were originally named 'Treg' to reflect immunoregulatory roles, this also captures emerging, regenerative Treg functions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674–680
Number of pages7
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number5
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Bibliographical note

Author contribution: As the Principal Investigator I conceptualised, designed, secured funding, supervised, managed and oversaw the study in QUB and with collaborators in California, USA, Cambridge UK, Edinburgh UK, Maynooth, Ireland and Nice, France. I wrote the paper with the first author and input from all authors.


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