Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 403, Issue 1–2, pp 25–31 | Cite as

Foxp3 regulates ratio of Treg and NKT cells in a mouse model of asthma

  • Yanming Lu
  • Yinshi Guo
  • Linyun Xu
  • Yaqin Li
  • Lanfang Cao


Chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways causes asthma. Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) and Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) both play critical roles in the pathogenesis of asthma. Activation of Treg cells requires Foxp3, whereas whether Foxp3 may regulate the ratio of Treg and NKT cells to affect asthma is uncertain. In an ovalbumin (OVA)-induced mouse model of asthma, we either increased Treg cells by lentivirus-mediated forced expression of exogenous Foxp3, or increased NKT cells by stimulation with its activator α-GalCer. We found that the CD4+CD25+ Treg cells increased by forced Foxp3 expression, and decreased by α-GalCer, while the CD3+CD161+ NKT cells decreased by forced Foxp3 expression, and increased by α-GalCer. Moreover, forced Foxp3 expression, but not α-GalCer, significantly alleviated the hallmarks of asthma. Furthermore, forced Foxp3 increased levels of IL_10 and TGFβ1, and α-GalCer increased levels of IL_4 and INFγ in the OVA-treated lung. Taken together, our study suggests that Foxp3 may activate Treg cells and suppress NKT cells in asthma. Treg and NKT cells may antagonize the effects of each other in asthma.


OVA Asthma Regulatory T cells (Treg cells) Natural killer T cells (NKT cells) Foxp3 α-GalCer 



This work was financially supported by Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau of China (NO. 20124147) and the allergy national clinical specialty construction project of the national health and family planning commission of China.

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Ren Ji Hospital, School of MedicineShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Allergy, Ren Ji Hospital, School of MedicineShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina

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