Regulatory T cells confer a circadian signature on inflammatory arthritis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Suzanna Dickson
  • Devin Simpkins
  • D. W. Ray


The circadian clock is an intrinsic oscillator that imparts 24h rhythms on immunity. This clock drives rhythmic repression of inflammatory arthritis during the night in mice, but mechanisms underlying this effect are not clear. Here we show that the amplitude of intrinsic oscillators within macrophages and neutrophils is limited by the chronic inflammatory environment, suggesting that rhythms in inflammatory mediators might not be a direct consequence of intrinsic clocks. Anti-inflammatory regulatory T (Tregs) cells within the joints have diurnal variation, with numbers peaking during the nadir of inflammation. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory action of Treg cells on innate immune cells contributes to the night-time repression of inflammation. Treg cells do not seem to be have intrinsic circadian rhythms, suggesting that rhythmic function might be a consequence of external signals. These data support a model in which non-rhythmic Treg cells are driven to rhythmic activity by systemic signals to confer a circadian signature to chronic arthritis.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2020