Supplementary Material for: CD4+CD25+ Regulatory T Cells Inhibit Natural Killer Cell Hepatocytotoxicity of Hepatitis B Virus Transgenic Mice via Membrane-Bound TGF-β and OX40

CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) are involved in the regulation of physiological and pathological hepatic immune responses, but the roles are not well explored in natural killer (NK) cell-mediated liver diseases. In this study, using the NK cell-mediated oversensitive liver injury model of hepatitis B virus transgenic (HBs-Tg) mice triggered by a low dose of concanavalin A, it was observed that an increased number of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Tregs were accumulated in the liver, along with the recovery of liver injury. Adoptive transfer of hepatic Tregs from HBs-Tg mice but not wild B6 mice could significantly attenuate the oversensitive liver injury via inhibiting liver accumulation and decreasing NK cell group 2D-mediated activation of NK cells in the recipient HBs-Tg mice. Furthermore, upregulated expression of membrane-bound TGF-β (mTGF-β) and OX40 on hepatic Tregs were demonstrated to account for inhibiting the NK cell-mediated hepatic injury in HBs-Tg mice through cell-cell contact, confirmed by antibody blockade and cell Transwell experiments in vivo and in vitro. Our findings for the first time indicated that CD4+CD25+ Tregs directly suppressed NK cell-mediated hepatocytotoxicity through mTGF-β and OX40/OX40L interaction in a cell-cell contact manner in HBV-associated liver disease.