The G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) agonist G-1 expands the regulatory T-cell population under TH17-polarizing conditions.
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The transcription factor Foxp3 is critical to the suppressive phenotype of CD4+ regulatory T cells. Studies have clearly shown that numerous autoimmune diseases are marked by the presence of activated CD4+ T cells within the setting of chronic inflammation. Therefore, drugs capable of inducing Foxp3 expression in activated CD4+ T cells could be of great therapeutic interest. We have previously shown that the small molecule G-1, an agonist directed against the membrane-bound G protein-coupled estrogen receptor, can induce IL10 expression in naive CD4+ T cells. In addition, we and others have demonstrated that G-1 attenuates disease in an animal model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Using ex vivo cultures of purified CD4+ T cells, we show that G-1 can elicit Foxp3 expression under TH17-polarizing conditions, which mimic the in situ inflammatory milieu of several autoimmune diseases. These findings build upon previous results demonstrating the immunosuppressive properties of the novel estrogenic small molecule G-1.