Constitutive GITR activation reduces atherosclerosis by promoting regulatory CD4+ T-Cell responses-brief report

Svenja Meiler, Esther Smeets, Holger Winkels, Annelie Shami, Maria Fernanda Pascutti, Martijn A. Nolte, Linda Beckers, Christian Weber, Norbert Gerdes, Esther Lutgens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective-Glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor family-related protein (GITR) is expressed on CD4+ effector memory T cells and regulatory T cells; however, its role on these functionally opposing cell types in atherosclerosis is not fully understood. Approach and Results-Low-density lipoprotein receptor-deficient mice (Ldlr-/-) were lethally irradiated and reconstituted with either bone marrow from B-cell-restricted Gitrl transgenic mice or from wild-Type controls and fed a high-cholesterol diet for 11 weeks. Chimeric Ldlr-/- Gitrltg mice showed a profound increase in both CD4+ effector memory T cells and regulatory T cells in secondary lymphoid organs. Additionally, the number of regulatory T cells was significantly enhanced in the thymus and aorta of these mice along with increased Gitrl and Il-2 transcript levels. Atherosclerotic lesions of Ldlr-/- Gitrltg chimeras contained more total CD3+ T cells as well as Foxp3+ regulatory T cells overall, leading to significantly less severe atherosclerosis. Conclusions-These data indicate that continuous GITR stimulation through B cell Gitrl acts protective in a mouse model of atherosclerosis by regulating the balance between regulatory and effector memory CD4+ T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1748-1752
Number of pages5
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bone marrow
  • Effector memory T cells
  • GITR ligand
  • Regulatory T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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