Replenishing Regulatory T Cells to Halt Depigmentation in Vitiligo

I. Caroline Le Poole*, Shikhar Mehrotra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Vitiligo is a cutaneous autoimmune disease, especially devastating to patients with darker skin tones because of the contrast between unaffected and lesional skin. We studied immune cells infiltrating vitiligo skin and found very few regulatory T cells (Tregs). Vitiligo was not associated with a reduced frequency or function of circulating Tregs. To manipulate Treg function, we used mouse models expressing melanocyte-reactive TCRs, following changes in pelage color. We also isolated splenocytes to measure Treg function and evaluated cutaneous Treg abundance. Even small numbers of Tregs transferred into depigmenting mice could effectively interfere with depigmentation. The same holds true for treatment with rapamycin, readily translatable for use in human patients; such treatment may be well tolerated. Because vitiligo skin is relatively devoid of cells that produce the chemokine CCL22, whereas circulating Tregs express normal levels of its receptor CCR4, we overexpressed Ccl22 in the skin of vitiligo-prone mice to assess the resulting levels of depigmentation. Markedly reduced depigmentation was accompanied by Treg infiltration to the skin. With several options available to support a healthy balance between Tregs and effector T cells, the next challenge will be to render such treatment antigen specific and avoid general immunosuppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S38-S45
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Biology


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