High levels of thyroid hormone impair regulatory T cells function via reduced PD-1 expression.

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) dysfunction plays an important role in the development and progression of Graves' disease (GD). Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) prompts FoxP3 in Tregs expression and enhances the suppressive activity of Tregs. Whether abnormal expression of PD-1 contributes to the breakdown of Tregs and the role of thyroid hormone in the PD-1 expression of Tregs in GD remain substantially undefined.To evaluate the role of PD-1 in Tregs function and triiodothyronine (T3) in PD-1 expression in patients with GD and mice treated with T3.We recruited 30 patients with GD and 30 healthy donors. PD-1 expression in Tregs and Tregs function were determined. To evaluate the effects of thyroid hormone on PD-1 expression in Tregs, we used T3 for the treatment of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). We then treated mice with T3 to confirm the effect of thyroid hormone on PD-1 expression in Tregs and Tregs function in vivo.PD-1 expression in Tregs and the suppressive function of Tregs significantly decreased in patients with GD. T3 reduced PD-1 expression in human Tregs in a concentration- and time-dependent manner in vitro. High levels of circulating T3 reduced PD-1 expression in Tregs, impaired Tregs function, and disrupted T-helper cell (Th1 and Th2) balance in mice treated with T3.Tregs dysfunction in GD patients might be due to down-regulation of PD-1 expression in Tregs induced by high levels of serum T3.

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Authors: Yi Zhong, Ting-Ting Lu, Xiao-Mei Liu, Bing-Li Liu, Yun Hu, Shu Liu, Jie Wang, Guo-Qing Li, Xiao-Ming Mao