T regulatory cells as a potential therapeutic target in psychosis? Current challenges and future perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

  • Fabiana Corsi-zuelli
  • Bill Deakin
  • Mikhael Haruo Fernandes De Lima
  • Paulo Louzada-junior
  • Cristina Marta Del-ben

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Many studies have reported that patients with psychosis, even before drug treatment, have mildly raised levels of blood cytokines relative to healthy controls. In contrast, there is a remarkable scarcity of studies investigating the cellular basis of immune function and cytokine changes in psychosis. The few flow-cytometry studies have been limited to counting the proportion of the major classes of monocyte and lymphocytes without distinguishing their pro- and anti-inflammatory subsets. Moreover, most of the investigations are cross-sectional and conducted with patients on long-term medication. These features make it difficult to eliminate confounding of illness-related changes by lifestyle factors, disease duration, and long exposure to antipsychotics. This article focuses on regulatory T cells (Tregs), cornerstone immune cells that regulate innate and adaptive immune forces and neuroimmune interactions between astrocytes and microglia. Tregs are also implicated in cardio-metabolic disorders that are common comorbidities of psychosis. We have recently proposed that Tregs are hypofunctional (‘h-Tregs’) in psychosis driven by our clinical findings and other independent research. Our h-Treg-glial imbalance hypothesis offers a new account for the co-occurrence of systemic immune dysregulation and mechanisms of psychosis development. This article extends our recent review, the h-Treg hypothesis, to cover new discoveries on Treg-based therapies from pre-clinical findings and their clinical implications. We provide a detailed characterisation of Treg studies in psychosis, identifying important methodological limitations and perspectives for scientific innovation. The outcomes presented in this article reaffirms our proposed h-Treg state in psychosis and reveals emerging preclinical research suggesting the potential benefit of Treg-enhancing therapies. There is a clear need for longitudinal studies conducted with drug-naïve or minimally treated patients using more sophisticated techniques of flow-cytometry, CyTOF expression markers, and in vitro co-culture assays to formally test the suppressive capacity of Tregs. Investment in Treg research offers major potential benefits in targeting emerging immunomodulatory treatment modalities on person-specific immune dysregulations.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number100330
Number of pages14
JournalBrain, Behaviour, and Immunity Health
Volume17
Early online date19 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Adaptive immune system, FoxP3, Interleukin-6, Psychosis, Regulatory T cells, Schizophrenia, Tregs