The superoxide-generating enzyme Nox2 contributes to hypertension and cardiovascular remodeling triggered by activation of the renin-angiotensin system. Multiple Nox2-expressing cells are implicated in angiotensin II–induced (Ang II–induced) pathophysiology, but the importance of Nox2 in leukocyte subsets is poorly understood. Here, we investigated the role of Nox2 in T cells, particularly Tregs. Mice globally deficient in Nox2 displayed increased numbers of Tregs in the heart at baseline, whereas Ang II–induced effector T cell (Teff) infiltration was inhibited. To investigate the role of Treg Nox2, we generated a mouse line with CD4-targeted Nox2 deficiency (Nox2fl/flCD4Cre+). These animals showed inhibition of Ang II–induced hypertension and cardiac remodeling related to increased tissue-resident Tregs and reduction in infiltrating Teffs, including Th17 cells. The protection in Nox2fl/flCD4Cre+ mice was reversed by anti-CD25 antibody depletion of Tregs. Mechanistically, Nox2–/y Tregs showed higher in vitro suppression of Teff proliferation than WT Tregs, increased nuclear levels of FoxP3 and NF-κB, and enhanced transcription of CD25, CD39, and CD73. Adoptive transfer of Tregs confirmed that Nox2-deficient cells had greater inhibitory effects on Ang II–induced heart remodeling than WT cells. These results identify a previously unrecognized role of Nox2 in modulating suppression of Tregs, which acts to enhance hypertension and cardiac remodeling.
Amber Emmerson, Silvia Cellone Trevelin, Heloise Mongue-Din, Pablo D. Becker, Carla Ortiz, Lesley A. Smyth, Qi Peng, Raul Elgueta, Greta Sawyer, Aleksandar Ivetic, Robert I. Lechler, Giovanna Lombardi, Ajay M. Shah
Schematic of cellular and molecular mechanisms through which Nox2 in CD4+ T cells regulates Ang II–induced hypertension and heart remodeling.