Phenotype of CD4+ T cell subsets that develop following mouse facial nerve axotomy

Junping Xin*, Derek A. Wainwright, Craig J. Serpe, Virginia M. Sanders, Kathryn J. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We have previously shown that CD4+ T helper (Th) 2 cells, but not Th1 cells, participate in the rescue of mouse facial motoneurons (FMN) from axotomy-induced cell death. Recently, a number of other CD4+ T cell subsets have been identified in addition to the Th1 and Th2 effector subsets, including Th17, inducible T regulatory type 1 (Tr1), and naturally thymus-born Foxp3+ regulatory (Foxp3+ Treg) cells. These subsets regulate the nature of a T cell-mediated immune response. Th1 and Th17 cells are pro-inflammatory subsets, while Th2, Tr1, and Foxp3+ Treg cells are anti-inflammatory subsets. Pro-inflammatory responses in the central nervous system are thought to be neurodestructive, while anti-inflammatory responses are considered neuroprotective. However, it remains to be determined if another CD4+ T cell subset, other than the Th2 cell, develops after peripheral nerve injury and participates in FMN survival. In the present study, we used FACS analysis to determine the temporal frequency of Th1, Th17, Th2, Tr1 and Foxp3+ Treg CD4+ T cell subset development in C57BL/6 wild type mice after facial nerve transection at the stylomastoid foramen in the mouse. The results indicate that all of the known CD4+ T cell subsets develop and expand in number within the draining lymph node, with a peak in number primarily at 7 days postoperative (dpo), followed by a decline at 9 dpo. In addition to the increase in subset frequency over time, FACS analysis of individual cells showed that the level of cytokine expressed per cell also increased for interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-17, but not IL-4. Additional control double-cytokine labeling experiments were done which indicate that, at 7 dpo, the majority of cells indeed have committed to a specific phenotype and express only 1 cytokine. Collectively, our findings indicate for the first time that there is no preferential activation and expansion of any single CD4+ T cell subset after peripheral nerve injury but, rather, that both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory CD4+ T cells develop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-537
Number of pages10
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Cytokine
  • Facial nerve axotomy
  • Motoneuron survival
  • T helper cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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