Induced Human Regulatory T Cells Express the Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor

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The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) plays a key role in metabolism and is an important therapeutic target in diabetes and obesity. Recent studies in experimental animals have shown that certain subsets of T cells express functional GLP-1R, indicating an immune regulatory role of GLP-1. In contrast, less is known about the expression and function of the GLP-1R in human T cells. Here, we provide evidence that activated human T cells express GLP-1R. The expressed GLP-1R was functional, as stimulation with a GLP-1R agonist triggered an increase in intracellular cAMP, which was abrogated by a GLP-1R antagonist. Analysis of CD4+ T cells activated under T helper (Th) 1, Th2, Th17 and regulatory T (Treg) cell differentiation conditions indicated that GLP-1R expression was most pronounced in induced Treg (iTreg) cells. Through multimodal single-cell CITE- and TCR-sequencing, we detected GLP-1R expression in 29-34% of the FoxP3+CD25+CD127- iTreg cells. GLP-1R+ cells showed no difference in their TCR-gene usage nor CDR3 lengths. Finally, we demonstrated the presence of GLP-1R+CD4+ T cells in skin from patients with allergic contact dermatitis. Taken together, the present data demonstrate that T cell activation triggers the expression of functional GLP-1R in human CD4+ T cells. Given the high induction of GLP-1R in human iTreg cells, we hypothesize that GLP-1R+ iTreg cells play a key role in the anti-inflammatory effects ascribed to GLP-1R agonists in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2587
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • CD4+ T cells, GLP-1R expression, human

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