Cyclosporine A (CSA) is an immunosuppressive agent that specifically targets T cells and also increases the percentage of pro-tolerogenic CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) through unknown mechanisms. We previously reported that CD44, a receptor for the extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan (HA), promotes Treg stability in IL-2-low environments. Here, we asked whether CD44 signaling also promotes Treg resistance to CSA. We found that CD44 cross-linking promoted Foxp3 expression and Treg viability in the setting of CSA treatment. This effect was IL-2 independent but could be suppressed using sc-355979, an inhibitor of Stat5-phosphorylation. Moreover, we found that inhibition of HA synthesis impairs Treg homeostasis but that this effect could be overcome with exogenous IL-2 or CD44-cross-linking. Together, these data support a model whereby CD44 cross-linking by HA promotes IL-2-independent Foxp3 expression and Treg survival in the face of CSA.
Ruppert, S. M., Falk, B. A., Long, S. A., & Bollyky, P. L. (2015). Regulatory T Cells Resist Cyclosporine-Induced Cell Death via CD44-Mediated Signaling Pathways. International Journal of Cell Biology, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/614297