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Pre-diagnostic genotyping identifies T1D subjects with impaired Treg IL-2 signaling and an elevated proportion of FOXP3+IL-17+ cells


T-regulatory cells (Tregs) are essential for immune tolerance, and animal studies implicate their dysfunction in type 1 diabetes (T1D) pathogenesis. Tregs require interleukin-2 (IL-2) for their suppressive function, and variants in IL-2/IL-2R pathway genes have been associated with T1D. We previously reported that recent-onset T1D subjects have an increased population of FOXP3lo Tregs that secrete the pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-17 (IL-17). We hypothesize that IL-2 signaling defects may drive T1D development by skewing protective Tregs towards an inflammatory Th17 phenotype. Overall, we found that the proportion of FOXP3+IL-17+ cells in T1D subjects pre-diagnosis was unchanged compared with healthy controls. However, stratification by IL2RA single-nucleotide polymorphisms revealed that T1D subjects with the rs3118470 CC risk variant have Tregs with IL-2 signaling defects and an increased proportion of FOXP3+IL-17+ cells before diagnosis. These data suggest a potential mechanism for genetically controlled loss of Treg function via dysfunctional IL-2 signaling in T1D.

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We thank our collaborators in the Benaroya Research Institute: Alice Long, Karen Cerosaletti and Jane Buckner for their support and review of the data. Funding for the study was provided by JDRF International. AKM was supported by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. The samples were provided by the Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet Pathway to Prevention Study Group. Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet Pathway to Prevention Study Group is a clinical trials network funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the cooperative agreements U01 DK061010, U01 DK061016, U01 DK061034, U01 DK061036, U01 DK061040, U01 DK061041, U01 DK061042, U01 DK061055, U01 DK061058, U01 DK084565, U01 DK085453, U01 DK085461, U01 DK085463, U01 DK085466, U01 DK085499, U01 DK085505, U01 DK085509 and a contract HHSN267200800019C; The National Center for Research Resources, through Clinical Translational Science Awards UL1 RR024131, UL1 RR024139, UL1 RR024153, UL1 RR024975, UL1 RR024982, UL1 RR025744, UL1 RR025761, UL1 RR025780, UL1 RR029890, UL1 RR031986 and General Clinical Research Center Award M01 RR00400; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF); and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The contents of this Article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH, JDRF or ADA.

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Correspondence to R Tan.

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Marwaha, A., Panagiotopoulos, C., Biggs, C. et al. Pre-diagnostic genotyping identifies T1D subjects with impaired Treg IL-2 signaling and an elevated proportion of FOXP3+IL-17+ cells. Genes Immun 18, 15–21 (2017).

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