Open Access Open Badges Research article

Type 1 regulatory T cells specific for collagen type II as an efficient cell-based therapy in arthritis

Hélène Asnagli1, Delphine Martire2, Nathalie Belmonte1, Julie Quentin2, Hervé Bastian1, Mathilde Boucard-Jourdin1, Papa Babacar Fall1, Anne-Laure Mausset-Bonnefont2, Amélie Mantello-Moreau1, Sandrine Rouquier1, Irène Marchetti1, Christian Jorgensen23, Arnaud Foussat1 and Pascale Louis-Plence2*

Author Affiliations

1 TxCell SA, Allée de la Nertière, Les Cardoulines, Sophia Antipolis-Valbonne, 06560 Valbonne, France

2 Inserm, U844, University of Montpellier 1, 80 rue Augustin Fliche, 34295 Montpellier, Cedex 05, France

3 CHU Lapeyronnie, Avenue Gaston Giraud, 34295 Montpellier, Cedex 05, France

For all author emails, please log on.

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R115  doi:10.1186/ar4567

Published: 22 May 2014



Regulatory T (Treg) cells play a crucial role in preventing autoimmune diseases and are an ideal target for the development of therapies designed to suppress inflammation in an antigen-specific manner. Type 1 regulatory T (Tr1) cells are defined by their capacity to produce high levels of interleukin 10 (IL-10), which contributes to their ability to suppress pathological immune responses in several settings. The aim of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic potential of collagen type II–specific Tr1 (Col-Treg) cells in two models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in mice.


Col-Treg clones were isolated and expanded from collagen-specific TCR transgenic mice. Their cytokine secretion profile and phenotype characterization were studied. The therapeutic potential of Col-Treg cells was evaluated after adoptive transfer in collagen-antibody– and collagen-induced arthritis models. The in vivo suppressive mechanism of Col-Treg clones on effector T-cell proliferation was also investigated.


Col-Treg clones are characterized by their specific cytokine profile (IL-10highIL-4negIFN-γint) and mediate contact-independent immune suppression. They also share with natural Tregs high expression of GITR, CD39 and granzyme B. A single infusion of Col-Treg cells reduced the incidence and clinical symptoms of arthritis in both preventive and curative settings, with a significant impact on collagen type II antibodies. Importantly, injection of antigen-specific Tr1 cells decreased the proliferation of antigen-specific effector T cells in vivo significantly.


Our results demonstrate the therapeutic potential of Col-Treg cells in two models of RA, providing evidence that Col-Treg could be an efficient cell-based therapy for RA patients whose disease is refractory to current treatments.