• Cell differentiation;
  • Costimulation;
  • Regulatory T cells

The glucocorticoid-induced TNFR-related (GITR) protein is a coactivating receptor that is constitutively expressed on Treg cells and induced on activated T cells. To better under-stand the role of long-term GITR signaling, we generated a mouse that constitutively expresses GITR ligand (GITRL) on APCs that mimics the physiological distribution of GITRL in vivo. Despite a five-fold expansion of the Treg-cell pool, there is increased activation and depletion of naive T cells in the transgenic (Tg) mice, suggesting that the increased number of Treg cells cannot fully suppress T-cell activation. Interestingly, GITRL Tg mice have multiorgan lymphocytic infiltrates yet display no overt autoimmunity, indicating the existence of a compensatory immunoregulatory mechanism(s). In the spleens and tissue infiltrates ofGITRL Tg mice, we found increased numbers of Foxp3 IL-10-producing type 1 regulatory T (Tr-1)-like cells that suppress naïve T-cell proliferation in an IL-10-dependent fashion. Increased IL-27 production from Tg APCs and activation of c-Maf in the Tr1-like cells suggest a possible mechanism for their induction. Our results demonstrate that enhanced GITR/GITRL interactions have a pleiotropic role on the regulation of T-cell responses, which includes promoting the differentiation of Tr-1-like cells, which contribute to the maintenance of peripheral T-cell tolerance.