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BACKGROUND: Regulatory T cells (T(regs)) are activated during anergy in response to T cell receptor (TCR) activation and functional immune suppression. Anergy of paediatric T(regs) is partially dependent on intracellular calcium mobility; following TCR activation, T(regs) do not exhibit increased intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+) ](i)). OBJECTIVE: We determined whether [Ca(2+) ](i) in adult T(regs) defined their anergy, if intracellular Ca(2+) movement was linked to regulatory functions, whether [Ca(2+)](i) was indicative of asthma pathology, and the potential molecular mechanism responsible for Ca(2+) movement in T(regs). METHODS: T(regs) were purified by the magnetic bead method, and their regulatory functions were assessed by monitoring carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester-labelled responder T cell proliferation. The Ca(2+) response of Fura-2-labelled cells was measured using a video image analysis system. To analyse the functions of T(regs) at the molecular level, we generated Jurkat Tet-On(®) clones with doxycycline (Dox)-induced forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) protein expression. RESULTS: CD4(+) CD25(+) CD127(-/low) T(regs) from participants without asthma did not elicit Ca(2+) influx in response to TCR activation, exhibited little proliferation and suppressed proliferation of CD4(+) CD25(-) T cells. In contrast, under similar conditions, T(regs) from patients with asthma exhibited increased [Ca(2+)](i) and robust proliferation with partial loss of regulatory functions. FOXP3 protein levels in Tet-On(®) clones were high after both 2- and 5-day Dox treatment; however, 5-day cells were comparable with T(regs) from patients with asthma, whereas 2-day cells were similar to T(regs) from participants without asthma. Increasing [Ca(2+)](i) induced a high level of receptor for activated C kinase 1 (RACK1) expression in 5-day cells. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: We confirmed that T(regs) in patients with asthma are functionally impaired and that the abnormal regulatory functions of these cells can be analysed by [Ca(2+)](i) following TCR engagement. Furthermore, the impaired functioning of T(regs) evident in patients with asthma may be due to a high level of RACK1.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Allergy

Publication Date





1154 - 1169


FOXP3, RACK1, asthma, calcium, regulatory T cell, Adrenal Cortex Hormones, Adult, Aged, Antigens, Surface, Asthma, Calcium, Case-Control Studies, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Female, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Gene Expression, Humans, Immunophenotyping, Intracellular Space, Lymphocyte Activation, Male, Middle Aged, Phenotype, Receptors for Activated C Kinase, Receptors, Cell Surface, Risk Factors, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory