Background: Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a neuroprotective role by suppressing microglia and macrophage-mediated inflammation and modulating adaptive immune reactions. We previously documented that Treg immunomodulatory mechanisms are compromised in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Ex vivo expansion of Tregs restores and amplifies their immunosuppressive functions in vitro. A key question is whether adoptive transfer of ex vivo expanded human Tregs can suppress neuroinflammation and amyloid pathology in a preclinical mouse model. Methods: An immunodeficient mouse model of AD was generated by backcrossing the 5xFAD onto Rag2 knockout mice (5xFAD-Rag2KO). Human Tregs were expanded ex vivo for 24 days and administered to 5xFAD-Rag2KO. Changes in amyloid burden, microglia characteristics and reactive astrocytes were evaluated using ELISA and confocal microscopy. NanoString Mouse AD multiplex gene expression analysis was applied to explore the impact of ex vivo expanded Tregs on the neuroinflammation transcriptome. Results: Elimination of mature B and T lymphocytes and natural killer cells in 5xFAD-Rag2KO mice was associated with upregulation of 95 inflammation genes and amplified number of reactive microglia within the dentate gyrus. Administration of ex vivo expanded Tregs reduced amyloid burden and reactive glial cells in the dentate gyrus and frontal cortex of 5xFAD-Rag2KO mice. Interrogation of inflammation gene expression documented down-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL1A&B, IL6), complement cascade (C1qa, C1qb, C1qc, C4a/b), toll-like receptors (Tlr3, Tlr4 and Tlr7) and microglial activations markers (CD14, Tyrobp,Trem2) following Treg administration. Conclusions: Ex vivo expanded Tregs with amplified immunomodulatory function, suppressed neuroinflammation and alleviated AD pathology in vivo. Our results provide preclinical evidences for Treg cell therapy as a potential treatment strategy in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 30 2022


  • Adaptive immune system
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyloid pathology
  • Inflammation
  • Microglia
  • Regulatory T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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