Th17 and regulatory T (Treg) cells are integral in maintaining immune homeostasis and Th17-Treg imbalance is associated with inflammatory immunosuppression in cancer. Here we show that Th17 cells are a source of tumour-induced Foxp3+ cells. In addition to natural (n)Treg and induced (i)Treg cells that develop from naive precursors, suppressive IL-17A+ Foxp3+ and ex-Th17 Foxp3+ cells are converted from IL-17A+ Foxp3 neg cells in tumour-bearing mice. Metabolic phenotyping of Foxp3-expressing IL-17A+, ex-Th17 and iTreg cells demonstrates the dissociation between the metabolic fitness and the suppressive function of Foxp3-expressing Treg cell subsets. Although all Foxp3-expressing subsets are immunosuppressive, glycolysis is a prominent metabolic pathway exerted only by IL-17A+ Foxp3+ cells. Transcriptome analysis and flow cytometry of IL-17A+ Foxp3+ cells indicate that Folr4, GARP, Itgb8, Pglyrp1, Il1rl1, Itgae, TIGIT and ICOS are Th17-to-Treg cell transdifferentiation-associated markers. Tumour-associated Th17-to-Treg cell conversion identified here provides insights for targeting the dynamism of Th17-Treg cells in cancer immunotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)