Fibroblastic reticular cells of the lymphoid tissues modulate T cell activation threshold during homeostasis via hyperactive cyclooxygenase-2/prostaglandin E2 axis

Miao Yu, Gang Guo, Xin Zhang, Li Li, Wei Yang, Roni Jacob Bollag, Yan Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) in the T cell zone of lymph nodes (LNs) are pivotal for T cell survival, mobility, and peripheral tolerance. Here, we demonstrate that during homeostasis, FRCs also suppress T cell activation via producing high level of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) due to their thousands-fold higher cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression than immune cells. This hyperactive COX-2/PGE2-induced suppression is evident during antigen-specific and non-Antigen-specific activations. It is implicated as suppressed TCR-signaling cascades, reduced alterations in activation markers, and inhibited cytokine production of freshly isolated T cells or T cells co-cultured with FRCs compared with those cultured without FRCs. Different from T cell dysfunction, this FRC-mediated suppression is surmountable by enhancing the strength of stimulation and is reversible by COX-2 inhibitors. Furthermore, T cells in the FRC environment where Cox-2 is genetic inactivated are more sensitive and rapidly activated upon stimulations than those in WT environment. Significantly, FRCs of human lymphoid organs manifest similar COX-2/PGE2 hyperactivity and T cell suppression. Together, this study identifies a previously unappreciated intrinsic mechanism of FRCs shared between mice and humans for suppressing T cell sensitivity to activation via PGE2, underscoring the importance of FRCs in shaping the suppressive milieu of lymphoid organs during homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3350
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this