Helminth Infection and Commensal Microbiota Drive Early IL-10 Production in the Skin by CD4+ T Cells That Are Functionally Suppressive

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The skin provides an important first line of defence and immunological barrier to invasive pathogens, but immune responses must also be regulated to maintain barrier function and ensure tolerance of skin surface commensal organisms. In schistosomiasis-endemic regions, populations can experience repeated percutaneous exposure to schistosome larvae, however little is known about how repeated exposure to pathogens affects immune regulation in the skin. Here, using a murine model of repeated infection with Schistosoma mansoni larvae, we show that the skin infection site becomes rich in regulatory IL-10, whilst in its absence, inflammation, neutrophil recruitment, and local lymphocyte proliferation is increased. Whilst CD4+ T cells are the primary cellular source of regulatory IL-10, they expressed none of the markers conventionally associated with T regulatory (Treg) cells (i.e. FoxP3, Helios, Nrp1, CD223, or CD49b). Nevertheless, these IL-10+ CD4+ T cells in the skin from repeatedly infected mice are functionally suppressive as they reduced proliferation of responsive CD4+ T cells from the skin draining lymph node. Moreover, the skin of infected Rag-/- mice had impaired IL-10 production and increased neutrophil recruitment. Finally, we show that the mechanism behind IL-10 production by CD4+ T cells in the skin is due to a combination of an initial (day 1) response specific to skin commensal bacteria, and then over the following days schistosome-specific CD4+ T cell responses, which together contribute towards limiting inflammation and tissue damage following schistosome infection. We propose CD4+ T cells in the skin that do not express markers of conventional T regulatory cell populations have a significant role in immune regulation after repeated pathogen exposure and speculate that these cells may also help to maintain skin barrier function in the context of repeated percutaneous insult by other skin pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004841
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Sanin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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