T cells modulate IL-4 expression by eosinophil recruitment within decellularized scaffolds to repair nerve defects

Deng Pan, Daniel A. Hunter, Lauren Schellhardt, Anja Fuchs, Alexandra E. Halevi, Alison K. Snyder-Warwick, Susan E. Mackinnon, Matthew D. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Decellularized nerve, or acellular nerve allografts (ANAs), are an increasingly used alternative to nerve autografts to repair nerve gaps to facilitate regeneration. The adaptive immune system, specifically T cells, plays a role in promoting regeneration upon these ANA scaffolds. However, how T cells promote regeneration across ANAs is not clear. Here, we show that T cells accumulate within ANAs repairing nerve gaps resulting in regulation of cytokine expression within the ANA environment. This in turn ultimately leads to robust nerve regeneration and functional recovery. Nerve regeneration across ANAs and functional recovery in Rag1KO mice was limited compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Prior to appreciable nerve regeneration, ANAs from Rag1KO mice contained fewer eosinophils and reduced IL-4 expression compared to ANAs from WT mice. During this period, both T cells and eosinophils regulated IL-4 expression within ANAs. Eosinophils represented the majority of IL-4 expressing cells within ANAs, while T cells regulated IL-4 expression. Finally, an essential role for IL-4 during nerve regeneration across ANAs was confirmed as nerves repaired using ANAs had reduced regeneration in IL-4 KO mice compared to WT mice. Our data demonstrate T cells regulate the expression of IL-4 within the ANA environment via their effects on eosinophils. Statement of significance: The immune system has been emerging as a critical component for tissue regeneration, especially when regeneration is supported upon biomaterials. The role of T cells, and their roles in the regeneration of nerve repaired with biomaterials, is still unclear. We demonstrated that when nerves are repaired with decellularized nerve scaffolds, T cells contribute to regeneration by regulating cytokines. We focused on their regulation of cytokine IL-4. Unexpectedly, T cells do not produce IL-4, but instead regulate IL-4 by recruiting eosinophils, which are major cellular sources of IL-4 within these scaffolds. Thus, our work demonstrated how IL-4 is regulated in a model biomaterial, and has implications for improving the design of biomaterials and understanding immune responses to biomaterials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-163
Number of pages15
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Acellular nerve allograft
  • IL-4
  • Myelination
  • Regeneration
  • T cells


Dive into the research topics of 'T cells modulate IL-4 expression by eosinophil recruitment within decellularized scaffolds to repair nerve defects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this