CD8+CD103+ iTregs Inhibit Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease with Lupus Nephritis by the Increased Expression of CD39

Xiao Zhang, Xia Ouyang, Zhenjian Xu, Junzhe Chen, Qiuyan Huang, Ya Liu, Tongtong Xu, Julie Wang, Nancy Olsen, Anping Xu, Song Guo Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Many patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have lupus nephritis, one of the severe complications of SLE. We previously reported that CD8+CD103+ T regulatory cells induced ex vivo with transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) (iTregs) inhibited immune cells responses to ameliorate excessive autoimmune inflammation. However, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying the role of these CD8+ iTregs is still unclear. Here we identified that CD39, which is highly expressed on CD8+ iTregs, crucially contributes to the immunosuppressive role of the CD8+CD103+ iTregs. We showed that adoptive transfer of CD8+CD103+ iTregs significantly relieves the chronic graft-versus-host disease with lupus nephritis and CD39 inhibitor mostly abolished the functional activities of these CD8+ iTregs in vitro and in vivo. CD39+ cells sorted from CD8+CD103+ iTregs were more effective in treating lupus nephritis than CD39− partner cells in vivo. Furthermore, human CD8+ iTregs displayed increased CD103 and CD39 expressions, and CD39 was involved in the suppressive function of human CD8+ iTregs. Thus, our data implicated a crucial role of CD39 in CD8+CD103+ iTregs in treating lupus nephritis, and CD39 could be a new phenotypic biomarker for the identification of highly qualified CD8+ Tregs. This subpopulation may have therapeutic potential in patients with SLE nephritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1963-1973
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 6 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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