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Keywords:

  • IL-2;
  • IL-10;
  • Immunosuppression;
  • Treg cells;
  • Toxoplasma gondii

Abstract

Acute Toxoplasma gondii infection comprises an immunosuppression stage, characterized by a reduction in T-cell proliferation in vitro. Treg cells maintain the homeostasis of the immune system, but their role in T. gondii-induced suppression has not been addressed. We show herein that immunosuppression, affecting both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell proliferation, concurs with a reduction in Treg-cell number. The residual Treg cells, however, are activated and display an increased suppressive capacity. We show that selective elimination of Treg cells using Foxp3EGFP mice leads to a full recovery of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell proliferation. After Treg-cell removal, a reduced production of IL-10 was observed, but IL-2 levels were unchanged. The numbers of IL-10-producing Treg cells also increased during infection, although the in vitro neutralization of this cytokine did not modify T-cell proliferation, suggesting that IL-10 does not mediate the Treg-mediated suppression. However, addition of rIL-2 in vitro fully restored T-cell proliferation from infected animals. Thus, we show that Treg cells mediate the T-cell suppression observed during acute T. gondii infection through an IL-2-dependent mechanism. Our results provide novel insights into the regulation of the immune response against T. gondii.