Foxp3+ Regulatory T Cells Play a Protective Role in Angiotensin II–Induced Aortic Aneurysm Formation in Mice
Although regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been shown to play a protective role in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) formation, it remains unclear whether expansion of endogenous Foxp3+ Tregs prevents AAA. In the current study, we determined the effects of endogenous Foxp3+ Treg expansion or depletion in an experimental model of AAA. We continuously infused 12-week-old apolipoprotein E–deficient mice fed a high-cholesterol diet with angiotensin II (n=60) or normal saline (n=12) by implanting osmotic mini-pumps and evaluated AAA formation at 16 weeks. The angiotensin II–infused mice received interleukin-2/anti–interleukin-2 monoclonal antibody complex (interleukin-2 complex; n=31) or PBS (n=29). Eighty-one percent of angiotensin II–infused mice developed AAA, with 42% mortality possibly because of aneurysm rupture. Interleukin-2 complex treatment systemically increased the number of Foxp3+ Tregs and significantly decreased the incidence (52%) and mortality (17%) of AAA. Immunohistochemical analysis showed reduced accumulation of macrophages and increased numbers of Foxp3+ Tregs in aneurysmal tissues, suggesting that expansion of Tregs may suppress local inflammation in the vessel wall and provide protection against AAA formation. Furthermore, genetic depletion of Foxp3+ Tregs led to a significant increase in the mortality of AAA, suggesting the protective role of Foxp3+ Tregs against AAA. Our findings suggest that Foxp3+ Tregs may play a protective role in AAA formation and that promotion of an endogenous regulatory immune response may be a potentially valuable therapeutic approach for preventing AAA.
- Received November 18, 2014.
- Revision received December 3, 2014.
- Accepted December 23, 2014.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.