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Psoriasis is a complex inflammatory skin disease affecting ∼3% of the population worldwide. Although type I interferons (IFN-I) are thought to be involved in its pathogenesis, the details of this relationship remain elusive. Here we show that in a murine model of imiquimod-driven psoriatic skin inflammation, Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (T reg cells) control inflammation severity by restraining IFN-I. Depletion of T reg cells induces IFN-I and IFN-stimulated gene expression, and leads to accumulation of CD8+ T cells in lesional skin. Mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) were the source of IFN-I, and their depletion reversed the effect of T reg cell depletion. Blockade of IFN-I signaling abolished CD8+ T cell infiltration and excess inflammation in the skin of T reg cell-depleted mice. Depletion of CD8+ T cells attenuated pathology, confirming their role as critical effector cells downstream of IFN-I. Our results describe an unexpected role for T reg cells in restraint of an MNP-IFN-I-driven CD8+ T cell response during psoriasiform skin inflammation. These findings highlight a pathway with potential relevance for the treatment of early-stage disease.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Med

Publication Date





1987 - 1998


Animals, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Forkhead Transcription Factors, Inflammation, Interferon Type I, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Phagocytes, Psoriasis, Severity of Illness Index, Skin, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory