Human Articular Chondrocytes Induce Interleukin-2 Nonresponsiveness to Allogeneic Lymphocytes

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We previously showed that articular chondrocytes (ACs) have immune privilege and immunomodulatory functions like those of mesenchymal stem cells. To elucidate these mechanisms, we focused on interleukin-2 (IL-2), which plays critical roles in lymphocyte mitogenic activity. The purpose of this study was to explore whether ACs affect the role of IL-2 underlying immunomodulatory functions.

Material and Methods

Irradiated human ACs from osteoarthritis donors were used. Third-party ACs were added to the mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) with or without recombinant human IL-2 (rhIL-2), and the levels of IL-2 and the soluble form of the IL-2 receptor α (sIL-2Rα) protein in supernatant were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Recombinant human IL-2 (rhIL-2) was also added to the MLR. To detect the expression of IL-2 receptor α (CD25) on lymphocytes in the MLR, flow cytometric analysis was performed. Last, ACs and allogeneic activated CD4+ T cell were co-cultured, and the expression of CD25 on activated T cells was examined by flow cytometry.


Third-party ACs significantly inhibited the MLR and reduced the level of sIL-2Rα in a dose-dependent manner, but did not affect the concentration of IL-2. Exogenous rhIL-2 accelerated MLR but did not rescue the inhibitory effect of ACs. ACs inhibited the expression of CD25 on activated CD4+ T cells.


Our results showed that third-party ACs inhibited the proliferation of allogeneic activated lymphocytes, thereby inhibiting production sIL-2Rα, although ACs did not affect IL-2 secretion from lymphocytes. Also, ACs inhibited CD25 expression on activated CD4+ T cells. Thus, ACs inhibited the immune response of allogeneic lymphocytes by inducing IL-2 nonresponsiveness.

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