An Oscillatory Switch in mTOR Kinase Activity Sets Regulatory T Cell Responsiveness

Claudio Procaccini, Veronica De Rosa, Mario Galgani, Luisa Abanni, Gaetano Calì, Antonio Porcellini, Fortunata Carbone, Silvia Fontana, Tamas L. Horvath, Antonio La Cava, Giuseppe Matarese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a discrepancy between the in vitro anergic state of CD4 +CD25 hiFoxP3 + regulatory T (Treg) cells and their in vivo proliferative capability. The underlying mechanism of this paradox is unknown. Here we show that the anergic state of Treg cells depends on the elevated activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway induced by leptin: a transient inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin, before T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation, made Treg cells highly proliferative in the absence of exogenous interleukin-2 (IL-2). This was a dynamic and oscillatory phenomenon characterized by an early downregulation of the leptin-mTOR pathway followed by an increase in mTOR activation necessary for Treg cell expansion to occur. These data suggest that energy metabolism, through the leptin-mTOR-axis, sets responsiveness of Treg cells that use this information to control immune tolerance and autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-941
Number of pages13
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 14 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology


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