„Assessment of the phenotypic stability of regulatory T cells in asthma”
(acronym: T-CELLS)

Project supported by the National Science Centre, Poland under the „SONATA 10” program

Total cost: 1 349 520,00 PLN
Centre Contribution: 1 349 520,00 PLN
Duration: 30/09/2016 – 29/09/2019

Principal Investigator: dr inż. Agnieszka Węgrzyn

Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease with recurrent acute episodes of airway inflammation and subsequent cycles of tissue repair triggering structural alterations of the lung tissue leading to progressive worsening of lung function. It is believed, that the chronic inflammation in asthma is result of dysregulated immune response to environmental factors. Consequently, several immune effector cells are activated in the airways including T cells, mast cells, eosinophils, basophils, macrophages as well as airway epithelial cells as well as smooth muscle cells. In this complexity, T cells emerge as the key players in asthmatic inflammation, by orchestrating both innate and adaptive immune response. For many years it was believed that in asthmatic patients, airway inflammation is driven by T cells with the most important role attributed to T helper type 2 (Th2) cells and their cytokines.
The aim of this project is to study the alterations in phenotypic stability of the Tregs in asthma. It is hypothesized that Tregs of asthmatic subjects exhibit distinct profile of molecules involved in maintenance their stable regulatory phenotype. Such Tregs are prone to the action of cytokines produced by airway epithelium exposed to factors such as allergens, viruses and environmental pollutants that trigger in asthmatics conversion of FOXP3+ Tregs to exTregs (exhibit conventional T cells phenotype). As a result, exTregs acquire effector-like phenotype and failed to inhibit inflammation in lungs and contribute to acute asthma episodes.
We assume that the data obtained in the project will essentially contribute to the extension of knowledge on the complexity of Tregs function in the immune pathology. Scientific information elaborated during the course of this study, will contribute to the further diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in asthma. The results will be also useful in better understanding of other immune pathologies including autoimmune disease.