Expansion of CD25+ Innate Lymphoid Cells Reduces Atherosclerosis
Objective—Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a newly discovered subset of immune cells that promote tissue homeostasis and protect against pathogens. ILCs produce cytokines also produced by T lymphocytes that have been shown to affect atherosclerosis, but the influence of ILCs on atherosclerosis has not been explored.
Approach and Results—We demonstrate that CD25+ ILCs that produce type 2 cytokines (ILC2s) are present in the aorta of atherosclerotic immunodeficient ldlr−/−rag1−/− mice. To investigate the role of ILCs in atherosclerosis, ldlr−/−rag1−/− mice were concurrently fed an atherogenic diet and treated with either ILC-depleting anti-CD90.2 antibodies or IL-2/anti-IL-2 complexes that expand CD25+ ILCs. Lesion development was not affected by anti-CD90.2 treatment, but was reduced in IL-2/anti–IL-2-treated mice. These IL-2-treated mice had reduced very low–density lipoprotein cholesterol and increased triglycerides compared with controls and reduced apolipoprotein B100 gene expression in the liver. IL-2/anti-IL-2 treatment caused expansion of ILC2s in aorta and other tissues, elevated levels of IL-5, systemic eosinophila, and hepatic eosinophilic inflammation. Blockade of IL-5 reversed the IL-2 complex–induced eosinophilia but did not change lesion size.
Conclusions—This study demonstrates that expansion of CD25-expressing ILCs by IL-2/anti-IL-2 complexes leads to a reduction in very low–density lipoprotein cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Global depletion of ILCs by anti-CD90.2 did not significantly affect lesion size indicating that different ILC subsets may have divergent effects on atherosclerosis.
- Received June 22, 2015.
- Accepted October 12, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.