Low-Dose IL-2 Might Activate Innate Lymphoid Cells Type 2 and Improve Post-MI Heart Function

BACKGROUND: Innate lymphoid cells type 2 (ILC2s) play critical homeostatic functions in peripheral tissues. ILC2s reside in perivascular niches and limit atherosclerosis development.

OBJECTIVES: ILC2s also reside in the pericardium but their role in postischemic injury is unknown.

METHODS: We examined the role of ILC2 in a mouse model of myocardial infarction (MI), and compared mice with or without genetic deletion of ILC2. We determined infarct size using histology and heart function using echocardiography. We assessed cardiac ILC2 using flow cytometry and RNA sequencing. Based on these data, we devised a therapeutic strategy to activate ILC2 in mice with acute MI, using exogenous interleukin (IL)-2. We also assessed the ability of low-dose IL-2 to activate ILC2 in a double-blind randomized clinical trial of patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS).

RESULTS: We found that ILC2 levels were increased in pericardial adipose tissue after experimental MI, and genetic ablation of ILC2 impeded the recovery of heart function. RNA sequencing revealed distinct transcript signatures in ILC2, and pointed to IL-2 axis as a major upstream regulator. Treatment of T-cell-deficient mice with IL-2 (to activate ILC2) significantly improved the recovery of heart function post-MI. Administration of low-dose IL-2 to patients with ACS led to activation of circulating ILC2, with significant increase in circulating IL-5, a prototypic ILC2-derived cytokine.

CONCLUSIONS: ILC2s promote cardiac healing and improve the recovery of heart function after MI in mice. Activation of ILC2 using low-dose IL-2 could be a novel therapeutic strategy to promote a reparative response after MI.

Yu X, et al. Innate Lymphoid Cells Promote Recovery of Ventricular Function After Myocardial Infarction. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 Sep 14;78(11):1127-1142. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc. 2021.07.018.