Treg cell-derived osteopontin promotes microglia-mediated white matter repair after ischemic stroke
The precise mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of regulatory T (Treg) cells on long-term tissue repair remain elusive. Here, using single-cell RNA sequencing and flow cytometry, we found that Treg cells infiltrated the brain 1 to 5 weeks after experimental stroke in mice. Selective depletion of Treg cells diminished oligodendrogenesis, white matter repair, and functional recovery after stroke. Transcriptomic analyses revealed potent immunomodulatory effects of brain-infiltrating Treg cells on other immune cells, including monocyte-lineage cells. Microglia depletion, but not T cell lymphopenia, mitigated the beneficial effects of transferred Treg cells on white matter regeneration. Mechanistically, Treg cell-derived osteopontin acted through integrin receptors on microglia to enhance microglial reparative activity, consequently promoting oligodendrogenesis and white matter repair. Increasing Treg cell numbers by delivering IL-2:IL-2 antibody complexes after stroke improved white matter integrity and rescued neurological functions over the long term. These findings reveal Treg cells as a neurorestorative target for stroke recovery.