Cerebral ischemia increases bone marrow CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells in mice via signals from sympathetic nervous system

Jianping Wang, Lie Yu, Chao Jiang, Xiaojie Fu, Xi Liu, Menghan Wang, Chunying Ou, Xiaobing Cui, Chengguang Zhou, Jian Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent evidence has shown that an increase in CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T (Treg) cells may contribute to stroke-induced immunosuppression. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie this increase in Treg cells remain unclear. Here, we used a transient middle cerebral artery occlusion model in mice and specific pathway inhibitors to demonstrate that stroke activates the sympathetic nervous system, which was abolished by 6-OHDA. The consequent activation of β2-adrenergic receptor (AR) signaling increased prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) level in bone marrow. β2-AR antagonist prevented the upregulation of PGE2. PGE2, which acts on prostaglandin E receptor subtype 4 (EP4), upregulated the expression of receptor activator for NF-κB ligand (RANKL) in CD4+ T cells and mediated the increase in Treg cells in bone marrow. Treatment of MCAO mice with RANKL antagonist OPG inhibited the increase in percent of bone marrow Treg cells. PGE2 also elevated the expression of indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase in CD11C+ dendritic cells and promoted the development of functional Treg cells. The effect was neutralized by treatment with indomethacin. Concurrently, stroke reduced production of stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) via β3-AR signals in bone marrow but increased the expression of C-X-C chemokine receptor (CXCR) 4 in Treg and other bone marrow cells. Treatment of MCAO mice with β3-AR antagonist SR-59230A reduced the percent of Treg cells in peripheral blood after stroke. The disruption of the CXCR4-SDF-1 axis may facilitate mobilization of Treg cells and other CXCR4+ cells into peripheral blood. This mechanism could account for the increase in Treg cells, hematopoietic stem cells, and progenitor cells in peripheral blood after stroke. We conclude that cerebral ischemia can increase bone marrow CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells via signals from the sympathetic nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-183
Number of pages12
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Bone marrow
  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Immunosuppression
  • SDF-1
  • SNS
  • Treg cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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