OBJECTIVES: We explored effect of gene silencing of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a rate-limiting enzyme for synthesis of catecholamines (CAs), in CD4+ T cells on differentiation and function of helper T (Th) cells to provide more evidence for functional significance of lymphocyte-derived CAs.
METHODS: CD4+ T lymphocytes were isolated and purified from the mesenteric lymph nodes of mice. Recombinant TH miRNA expression vector (pcDNA6.2-GW/EmGFPmiR-TH) was constructed and transfected into concanavalin A (Con A)-activated CD4+ T lymphocytes using nucleofection technology. After incubated for 48 h, these cells were detected for TH gene and protein expression and CA content. Simultaneously, percentage of interferon-γ (IFN-γ)- and interleukin-4 (IL-4)-producing cells and levels of IL-2, IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), IL-4 and IL-5 in culture supernatants of Con A-stimulated CD4+ T cells were examined by flow cytometric analysis.
RESULTS: CD4+ T lymphocytes with TH RNAi expressed less TH mRNA and protein and synthesized less CAs including norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine than control cells with mock transfection. The silencing of TH gene in CD4+ T lymphocytes reduced percentage of IL-4-producing cells and elevated ratio of IFN-γ-producing cells to IL-4-producing cells, although it did not alter proportion of IFN-γ-producing cells. The Th1 cytokines, IL-2, IFN-γ and TNF, were increased, but the Th2 cytokines, IL-4 and IL-5, were decreased in the culture supernatants of Con A-stimulated CD4+ T lymphocytes that were transfected with TH miRNA.
CONCLUSION: TH gene silencing attenuates TH expression and CA synthesis in CD4+ T lymphocytes and promotes polarization of differentiation and function towards Th1 cells.