Current interventions for arresting autoimmune diabetes have yet to strike the balance between sufficient efficacy, minimal side effects, and lack of generalized immunosuppression. Introduction of antigen via the gut represents an appealing method for induction of antigen-specific tolerance. Here, we developed a strategy for tolerance restoration using mucosal delivery in mice of biologically contained Lactococcus lactis genetically modified to secrete the whole proinsulin autoantigen along with the immunomodulatory cytokine IL-10. We show that combination therapy with low-dose systemic anti-CD3 stably reverted diabetes in NOD mice and increased frequencies of local Tregs, which not only accumulated in the pancreatic islets, but also suppressed immune response in an autoantigen-specific way. Cured mice remained responsive to disease-unrelated antigens, which argues against excessive immunosuppression. Application of this therapeutic tool achieved gut mucosal delivery of a diabetes-relevant autoantigen and a biologically active immunomodulatory cytokine, IL-10, and, when combined with a low dose of systemic anti-CD3, was well tolerated and induced autoantigen-specific long-term tolerance, allowing reversal of established autoimmune diabetes. Therefore, we believe this method could be an effective treatment strategy for type 1 diabetes in humans.
Tatiana Takiishi, Hannelie Korf, Tom L. Van Belle, Sofie Robert, Fabio A. Grieco, Silvia Caluwaerts, Letizia Galleri, Isabella Spagnuolo, Lothar Steidler, Karolien Van Huynegem, Pieter Demetter, Clive Wasserfall, Mark A. Atkinson, Francesco Dotta, Pieter Rottiers, Conny Gysemans, Chantal Mathieu
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is caused by autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing β cells in the pancreatic islets, which are essentially mini-organs embedded in exocrine tissue. CTLs are considered to have a predominant role in the autoimmune destruction underlying T1D. Visualization of CTL-mediated killing of β cells would provide new insight into the pathogenesis of T1D, but has been technically challenging to achieve. Here, we report our use of intravital 2-photon imaging in mice to visualize the dynamic behavior of a virally expanded, diabetogenic CTL population in the pancreas at cellular resolution. Following vascular arrest and extravasation, CTLs adopted a random motility pattern throughout the compact exocrine tissue and displayed unimpeded yet nonlinear migration between anatomically nearby islets. Upon antigen encounter within islets, a confined motility pattern was acquired that allowed the CTLs to scan the target cell surface. A minority of infiltrating CTLs subsequently arrested at the β cell junction, while duration of stable CTL–target cell contact was on the order of hours. Slow-rate killing occurred in the sustained local presence of substantial numbers of effector cells. Collectively, these data portray the kinetics of CTL homing to and between antigenic target sites as a stochastic process at the sub-organ level and argue against a dominant influence of chemotactic gradients.
Ken Coppieters, Natalie Amirian, Matthias von Herrath
Many autoimmune diseases exhibit familial aggregation, indicating that they have genetic determinants. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in PTPN2, which encodes T cell protein tyrosine phosphatase (TCPTP), have been linked with the development of several autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and Crohn’s disease. In this study, we have identified TCPTP as a key negative regulator of TCR signaling, which might explain the association of PTPN2 SNPs with autoimmune disease. We found that TCPTP dephosphorylates and inactivates Src family kinases to regulate T cell responses. Using T cell–specific TCPTP-deficient mice, we established that TCPTP attenuates T cell activation and proliferation in vitro and blunts antigen-induced responses in vivo. TCPTP deficiency lowered the in vivo threshold for TCR-dependent CD8+ T cell proliferation. Consistent with this, T cell–specific TCPTP-deficient mice developed widespread inflammation and autoimmunity that was transferable to wild-type recipient mice by CD8+ T cells alone. This autoimmunity was associated with increased serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines and anti-nuclear antibodies, T cell infiltrates in non-lymphoid tissues, and liver disease. These data indicate that TCPTP is a critical negative regulator of TCR signaling that sets the threshold for TCR-induced naive T cell responses to prevent autoimmune and inflammatory disorders arising.
Florian Wiede, Benjamin J. Shields, Sock Hui Chew, Konstantinos Kyparissoudis, Catherine van Vliet, Sandra Galic, Michel L. Tremblay, Sarah M. Russell, Dale I. Godfrey, Tony Tiganis
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that shows familial aggregation in humans and likely has genetic determinants. Disease linkage studies have revealed many susceptibility loci for T1D in mice and humans. The mouse T1D susceptibility locus insulin-dependent diabetes susceptibility 3 (Idd3), which has a homologous genetic interval in humans, encodes cytokine genes Il2 and Il21 and regulates diabetes and other autoimmune diseases; however, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of this regulation are still being elucidated. Here we show that T cells from NOD mice produce more Il21 and less Il2 and exhibit enhanced Th17 cell generation compared with T cells from NOD.Idd3 congenic mice, which carry the protective Idd3 allele from a diabetes-resistant mouse strain. Further, APCs from NOD and NOD.Idd3 mice played a central role in this differential Th17 cell development, and IL-21 signaling in APCs was pivotal to this process. Specifically, NOD-derived APCs showed increased production of pro-Th17 mediators and dysregulation of the retinoic acid (RA) signaling pathway compared with APCs from NOD.Idd3 and NOD.Il21r-deficient mice. These data suggest that the protective effect of the Idd3 locus is due, in part, to differential RA signaling in APCs and that IL-21 likely plays a role in this process. Thus, we believe APCs provide a new candidate for therapeutic intervention in autoimmune diseases.
Sue M. Liu, David H. Lee, Jenna M. Sullivan, Denise Chung, Anneli Jäger, Bennett O.V. Shum, Nora E. Sarvetnick, Ana C. Anderson, Vijay K. Kuchroo
Protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 22 (PTPN22) gene polymorphisms are associated with many autoimmune diseases. The major risk allele encodes an R620W amino acid change that alters B cell receptor (BCR) signaling involved in the regulation of central B cell tolerance. To assess whether this PTPN22 risk allele affects the removal of developing autoreactive B cells, we tested by ELISA the reactivity of recombinant antibodies isolated from single B cells from asymptomatic healthy individuals carrying one or two PTPN22 risk allele(s) encoding the PTPN22 R620W variant. We found that new emigrant/transitional and mature naive B cells from carriers of this PTPN22 risk allele contained high frequencies of autoreactive clones compared with those from non-carriers, revealing defective central and peripheral B cell tolerance checkpoints. Hence, a single PTPN22 risk allele has a dominant effect on altering autoreactive B cell counterselection before any onset of autoimmunity. In addition, gene array experiments analyzing mature naive B cells displaying PTPN22 risk allele(s) revealed that the association strength of PTPN22 for autoimmunity may be due not only to the impaired removal of autoreactive B cells but also to the upregulation of genes such as CD40, TRAF1, and IRF5, which encode proteins that promote B cell activation and have been identified as susceptibility genes associated with autoimmune diseases. These data demonstrate that early B cell tolerance defects in autoimmunity can result from specific polymorphisms and precede the onset of disease.
Laurence Menard, David Saadoun, Isabelle Isnardi, Yen-Shing Ng, Greta Meyers, Christopher Massad, Christina Price, Clara Abraham, Roja Motaghedi, Jane H. Buckner, Peter K. Gregersen, Eric Meffre
The immune and coagulation systems are both implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Plasma carboxypeptidase B (CPB), which is activated by the thrombin/thrombomodulin complex, plays a procoagulant role during fibrin clot formation. However, an antiinflammatory role for CPB is suggested by the recent observation that CPB can cleave proinflammatory mediators, such as C5a, bradykinin, and osteopontin. Here, we show that CPB plays a central role in downregulating C5a-mediated inflammatory responses in autoimmune arthritis. CPB deficiency exacerbated inflammatory arthritis in a mouse model of RA, and cleavage of C5a by CPB suppressed the ability of C5a to recruit immune cells in vivo. In human patients with RA, genotyping of nonsynonymous SNPs in the CPB-encoding gene revealed that the allele encoding a CPB variant with longer half-life was associated with a lower risk of developing radiographically severe RA. Functionally, this CPB variant was more effective at abrogating the proinflammatory properties of C5a. Additionally, expression of both CPB and C5a in synovial fluid was higher in patients with RA than in those with osteoarthritis. These findings suggest that CPB plays a critical role in dampening local, C5a-mediated inflammation and represents a molecular link between inflammation and coagulation in autoimmune arthritis.
Jason J. Song, Inyong Hwang, Kyung H. Cho, Michael A. Garcia, Arthur J. Kim, Tiffany H. Wang, Tamsin M. Lindstrom, Annette T. Lee, Toshihiko Nishimura, Lei Zhao, John Morser, Michael Nesheim, Stuart B. Goodman, David M. Lee, S. Louis Bridges Jr., Peter K. Gregersen, Lawrence L. Leung, William H. Robinson
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by destruction of insulin-producing β cells in the pancreatic islets by effector T cells. Tregs, defined by the markers CD4 and FoxP3, regulate immune responses by suppressing effector T cells and are recruited to sites of action by the chemokine CCL22. Here, we demonstrate that production of CCL22 in islets after intrapancreatic duct injection of double-stranded adeno-associated virus encoding CCL22 recruits endogenous Tregs to the islets and confers long-term protection from autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice. In addition, adenoviral expression of CCL22 in syngeneic islet transplants in diabetic NOD recipients prevented β cell destruction by autoreactive T cells and thereby delayed recurrence of diabetes. CCL22 expression increased the frequency of Tregs, produced higher levels of TGF-β in the CD4+ T cell population near islets, and decreased the frequency of circulating autoreactive CD8+ T cells and CD8+ IFN-γ–producing T cells. The protective effect of CCL22 was abrogated by depletion of Tregs with a CD25-specific antibody. Our results indicate that islet expression of CCL22 recruits Tregs and attenuates autoimmune destruction of β cells. CCL22-mediated recruitment of Tregs to islets may be a novel therapeutic strategy for type 1 diabetes.
Joel Montane, Loraine Bischoff, Galina Soukhatcheva, Derek L. Dai, Gijs Hardenberg, Megan K. Levings, Paul C. Orban, Timothy J. Kieffer, Rusung Tan, C. Bruce Verchere
Apoptotic cells must be rapidly cleared, as defects in this process can lead to autoimmunity. Milk fat globule EGF factor 8 (MFG-E8) binds to apoptotic cells and facilitates their removal through interaction with phagocytes. Mice deficient in MFG-E8 develop lupus-like autoimmunity associated with accumulation of apoptotic cells in vivo. Here, we have shown that MFG-E8 controls phagocytic ingestion of cell fragments as well as their intracellular processing into MHC-antigen complexes. Older Mfge8–/– mice spontaneously developed dermatitis associated with CD8+ T cell infiltration and striking activation of effector memory CD8+ T cells. CD8+ T cell responses to both exogenous and endogenous apoptotic cell–associated antigens were enhanced in Mfge8–/– mice. MFG-E8 deficiency accelerated the onset of disease in a mouse model of autoimmune diabetes. Enhanced CD8+ T cell responses were attributed to increased cross-presentation by DCs along with increased detection of antigen-MHCI complexes. Intracellular trafficking analysis revealed that intact apoptotic cells ingested by wild-type DCs rapidly fused with lysosomes, whereas smaller fragments persisted in Mfge8–/– DC endosomal compartments for 24 hours. These observations suggest that MFG-E8 deficiency promotes immune responses to self antigens not only by delaying the clearance of dying cells but also by altering intracellular processing, leading to enhanced self-antigen presentation.
YuFeng Peng, Keith B. Elkon
Autoimmunity has long been linked to myocarditis and its sequela, dilated cardiomyopathy, the leading causes of heart failure in young patients. However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly defined, with most clinical investigations focused on humoral autoimmunity as the target for intervention. Here, we show that the α-isoform of myosin heavy chain (α-MyHC, which is encoded by the gene Myh6) is the pathogenic autoantigen for CD4+ T cells in a spontaneous mouse model of myocarditis. Further, we found that Myh6 transcripts were absent in mouse medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) and peripheral lymphoid stromal cells, which have been implicated in mediating central and peripheral T cell tolerance, respectively. Transgenic expression of α-MyHC in thymic epithelium conferred tolerance to cardiac myosin and prevented myocarditis, demonstrating that α-MyHC is a primary autoantigen in this disease process. Remarkably, we found that humans also lacked α-MyHC in mTECs and had high frequencies of α-MyHC–specific T cells in peripheral blood, with markedly augmented T cell responses to α-MyHC in patients with myocarditis. Since α-MyHC constitutes a small fraction of MyHC in human heart, these findings challenge the longstanding notion that autoimmune targeting of MyHC is due to its cardiac abundance and instead suggest that it is targeted as a result of impaired T cell tolerance mechanisms. These results thus support a role for T cell–specific therapies for myocarditis.
HuiJuan Lv, Evis Havari, Sheena Pinto, Raju V.S.R.K. Gottumukkala, Lizbeth Cornivelli, Khadir Raddassi, Takashi Matsui, Anthony Rosenzweig, Roderick T. Bronson, Ross Smith, Anne L. Fletcher, Shannon J. Turley, Kai Wucherpfennig, Bruno Kyewski, Myra A. Lipes
Type 1A diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterized by leukocyte infiltration of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. A major impediment to advances in understanding, preventing, and curing T1D has been the inability to “see” the disease initiate, progress, or regress, especially during the occult phase. Here, we report the development of a noninvasive method to visualize T1D at the target organ level in patients with active insulitis. Specifically, we visualized islet inflammation, manifest by microvascular changes and monocyte/macrophage recruitment and activation, using magnetic resonance imaging of magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). As a proof of principle for this approach, imaging of infused ferumoxtran-10 nanoparticles permitted effective visualization of the pancreas and distinction of recent-onset diabetes patients from nondiabetic controls. The observation that MNPs accumulate in the pancreas of T1D patients opens the door to exploiting this noninvasive imaging method to follow T1D progression and monitoring the ability of immunomodulatory agents to clear insulitis.
Jason L. Gaglia, Alexander R. Guimaraes, Mukesh Harisinghani, Stuart E. Turvey, Richard Jackson, Christophe Benoist, Diane Mathis, Ralph Weissleder
CXCL13 is a key B cell chemoattractant and marker of disease activity in patients with SLE; however, the mechanism of its induction has not been identified yet. Here, we have shown that the proteoglycan biglycan triggers CXCL13 expression via TLR2/4 in macrophages and dendritic cells. In vivo, levels of biglycan were markedly elevated in the plasma and kidneys of human SLE patients and lupus-prone (MRL/lpr) mice. Overexpression of soluble biglycan in MRL/lpr mice raised plasma and renal levels of CXCL13 and caused accumulation of B cells with an enhanced B1/B cell ratio in the kidney, worsening of organ damage, and albuminuria. Importantly, biglycan also triggered CXCL13 expression and B cell infiltration in the healthy kidney. Conversely, biglycan deficiency improved systemic and renal outcome in lupus-prone mice, with lower levels of autoantibodies, less enlargement of the spleen and lymph nodes, and reduction in renal damage and albuminuria. This correlated with a marked decline in circulating and renal CXCL13 and a reduction in the number of B cells in the kidney. Collectively, our results describe what we believe to be a novel mechanism for the regulation of CXCL13 by biglycan, a host-derived ligand for TLR2/4. Blocking biglycan-TLR2/4 interactions might be a promising strategy for the management of SLE and other B cell–mediated inflammatory disease entities.
Kristin Moreth, Rebekka Brodbeck, Andrea Babelova, Norbert Gretz, Tilmann Spieker, Jinyang Zeng-Brouwers, Josef Pfeilschifter, Marian F. Young, Roland M. Schaefer, Liliana Schaefer
TLRs play an essential role in the induction of immune responses by detecting conserved molecular products of microorganisms. However, the function of TLR8 is largely unknown. In the current study, we investigated the role of TLR8 signaling in immunity in mice. We found that Tlr8–/– DCs overexpressed TLR7, were hyperresponsive to various TLR7 ligands, and showed stronger and faster NF-κB activation upon stimulation with the TLR7 ligand R848. Tlr8–/– mice showed splenomegaly, defective development of marginal zone (MZ) and B1 B cells, and increased serum levels of IgM and IgG2a. Furthermore, Tlr8–/– mice exhibited increased serum levels of autoantibodies against small nuclear ribonucleoproteins, ribonucleoprotein, and dsDNA and developed glomerulonephritis, whereas neither Tlr7–/– nor Tlr8–/–Tlr7–/– mice showed any of the phenotypes observed in Tlr8–/– mice. These data provide evidence for a pivotal role for mouse TLR8 in the regulation of mouse TLR7 expression and prevention of spontaneous autoimmunity.
Olivier Demaria, Philippe P. Pagni, Stephanie Traub, Aude de Gassart, Nora Branzk, Andrew J. Murphy, David M. Valenzuela, George D. Yancopoulos, Richard A. Flavell, Lena Alexopoulou
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA) causes vascular injury that leads to small-vessel vasculitis. Patients with ANCA aberrantly express neutrophil granule–encoding genes, including 2 that encode autoantigens: proteinase 3 (PR3) and myeloperoxidase (MPO). To uncover a potential transcriptional regulatory mechanism for PR3 and MPO disrupted in patients with ANCA vasculitis, we examined the PR3 and MPO loci in neutrophils from ANCA patients and healthy control individuals for epigenetic modifications associated with gene silencing. We found that levels of the chromatin modification H3K27me3, which is associated with gene silencing, were depleted at PR3 and MPO loci in ANCA patients compared with healthy controls. Interestingly, in both patients and controls, DNA was unmethylated at a CpG island in PR3, whereas in healthy controls, DNA was methylated at a CpG island in MPO. Consistent with decreased levels of H3K27me3, JMJD3, the demethylase specific for H3K27me3, was preferentially expressed in ANCA patients versus healthy controls. In addition, we describe a mechanism for recruiting the H3K27 methyltransferase enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) to PR3 and MPO loci mediated by RUNX3. RUNX3 message was decreased in patients compared with healthy controls, and may also be under epigenetic control. DNA methylation was increased at the RUNX3 promoter in ANCA patients. These data indicate that epigenetic modifications associated with gene silencing are perturbed at ANCA autoantigen–encoding genes, potentially contributing to inappropriate expression of PR3 and MPO in ANCA patients.
Dominic J. Ciavatta, JiaJin Yang, Gloria A. Preston, Anshul K. Badhwar, Hong Xiao, Peter Hewins, Carla M. Nester, William F. Pendergraft III, Terry R. Magnuson, J. Charles Jennette, Ronald J. Falk
Deregulated production of IL-17 and IL-21 plays a key pathogenic role in many autoimmune disorders. A delineation of the mechanisms that underlie the inappropriate synthesis of IL-17 and IL-21 in autoimmune diseases can thus provide important insights into potential therapies for these disorders. Here we have shown that the serine-threonine kinase Rho-associated, coiled-coil–containing protein kinase 2 (ROCK2) becomes activated in mouse T cells under Th17 skewing conditions and phosphorylates interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4), a transcription factor that is absolutely required for the production of IL-17 and IL-21. We furthermore demonstrated that ROCK2-mediated phosphorylation of IRF4 regulated the synthesis of IL-17 and IL-21 and the differentiation of Th17 cells. Whereas CD4+ T cells from WT mice activated ROCK2 physiologically under Th17 conditions, CD4+ T cells from 2 different mouse models of spontaneous autoimmunity aberrantly activated ROCK2 under neutral conditions. Moreover, administration of ROCK inhibitors ameliorated the deregulated production of IL-17 and IL-21 and the inflammatory and autoantibody responses observed in these autoimmune mice. Our findings thus uncover a crucial link among ROCK2, IRF4, and the production of IL-17 and IL-21 and support the idea that selective inhibition of ROCK2 could represent an important therapeutic regimen for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.
Partha S. Biswas, Sanjay Gupta, Emily Chang, Li Song, Roslynn A. Stirzaker, James K. Liao, Govind Bhagat, Alessandra B. Pernis
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and attacks of muscle atonia triggered by strong emotions (cataplexy). Narcolepsy is caused by hypocretin (orexin) deficiency, paralleled by a dramatic loss in hypothalamic hypocretin-producing neurons. It is believed that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder, although definitive proof of this, such as the presence of autoantibodies, is still lacking. We engineered a transgenic mouse model to identify peptides enriched within hypocretin-producing neurons that could serve as potential autoimmune targets. Initial analysis indicated that the transcript encoding Tribbles homolog 2 (Trib2), previously identified as an autoantigen in autoimmune uveitis, was enriched in hypocretin neurons in these mice. ELISA analysis showed that sera from narcolepsy patients with cataplexy had higher Trib2-specific antibody titers compared with either normal controls or patients with idiopathic hypersomnia, multiple sclerosis, or other inflammatory neurological disorders. Trib2-specific antibody titers were highest early after narcolepsy onset, sharply decreased within 2–3 years, and then stabilized at levels substantially higher than that of controls for up to 30 years. High Trib2-specific antibody titers correlated with the severity of cataplexy. Serum of a patient showed specific immunoreactivity with over 86% of hypocretin neurons in the mouse hypothalamus. Thus, we have identified reactive autoantibodies in human narcolepsy, providing evidence that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder.
Vesna Cvetkovic-Lopes, Laurence Bayer, Stéphane Dorsaz, Stéphanie Maret, Sylvain Pradervand, Yves Dauvilliers, Michel Lecendreux, Gert-Jan Lammers, Claire E.H.M. Donjacour, Renaud A. Du Pasquier, Corinne Pfister, Brice Petit, Hyun Hor, Michel Mühlethaler, Mehdi Tafti
Adult neural stem cells (aNSCs) derived from the subventricular zone of the brain show therapeutic effects in EAE, an animal model of the chronic inflammatory neurodegenerative disease MS; however, the beneficial effects are modest. One critical weakness of aNSC therapy may be an insufficient antiinflammatory effect. Here, we demonstrate that i.v. or i.c.v. injection of aNSCs engineered to secrete IL-10 (IL-10–aNSCs), a potent immunoregulatory cytokine, induced more profound functional and pathological recovery from ongoing EAE than that with control aNSCs. IL-10–aNSCs exhibited enhanced antiinflammatory effects in the periphery and inflammatory foci in the CNS compared with control aNSCs, more effectively reducing myelin damage, a hallmark of MS. When compared with mice treated with control aNSCs, those treated with IL-10–aNSCs demonstrated differentiation of transplanted cells into greater numbers of oligodendrocytes and neurons but fewer astrocytes, thus enhancing exogenous remyelination and neuron/axonal growth. Finally, IL-10–aNSCs converted a hostile environment to one supportive of neurons/oligodendrocytes, thereby promoting endogenous remyelination. Thus, aNSCs engineered to express IL-10 show enhanced ability to induce immune suppression, remyelination, and neuronal repair and may represent a novel approach that can substantially improve the efficacy of neural stem cell–based therapy in EAE/MS.
Jingxian Yang, Zhilong Jiang, Denise C. Fitzgerald, Cungen Ma, Shuo Yu, Hongmei Li, Zhao Zhao, Yonghai Li, Bogoljub Ciric, Mark Curtis, Abdolmohamad Rostami, Guang-Xian Zhang
Ania Skowera, Richard J. Ellis, Ruben Varela-Calviño, Sefina Arif, Guo Cai Huang, Cassie Van-Krinks, Anna Zaremba, Chloe Rackham, Jennifer S. Allen, Timothy I.M. Tree, Min Zhao, Colin M. Dayan, Andrew K. Sewell, Wendy W. Unger, Jan W. Drijfhout, Ferry Ossendorp, Bart O. Roep, Mark Peakman
Phase II clinical trials revealed that the lymphocyte-depleting humanized monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab (Campath-1H) is highly effective in the treatment of early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. However, 30% of patients develop autoimmunity months to years after pulsed exposure to alemtuzumab, usually targeting the thyroid gland and, more rarely, blood components. In this study, we show that autoimmunity arose in those patients with greater T cell apoptosis and cell cycling in response to alemtuzumab-induced lymphocyte depletion, a phenomenon that is driven by higher levels of IL-21. Before treatment, patients who went on to develop secondary autoimmunity had more than 2-fold greater levels of serum IL-21 than the nonautoimmune group. We suggest that serum IL-21 may, therefore, serve as a biomarker for the risk of developing autoimmunity months to years after alemtuzumab treatment. This has implications for counseling those patients with multiple sclerosis who are considering lymphocyte-depleting therapy with alemtuzumab. Finally, we demonstrate through genotyping that IL-21 expression is genetically predetermined. We propose that, by driving cycles of T cell expansion and apoptosis to excess, IL-21 increases the stochastic opportunities for T cells to encounter self antigen and, hence, for autoimmunity.
Joanne L. Jones, Chia-Ling Phuah, Amanda L. Cox, Sara A. Thompson, Maria Ban, Jacqueline Shawcross, Amie Walton, Stephen J. Sawcer, Alastair Compston, Alasdair J. Coles
Bim, the B cell lymphoma 2–interacting (Bcl2-interacting) mediator, maintains immunological tolerance by deleting autoreactive lymphocytes through apoptosis. We report here that Bim is also, paradoxically, required for the activation of autoreactive T cells. Deletion of Bim in hematopoietic cells rendered mice resistant to autoimmune encephalomyelitis and diabetes, and Bim-deficient T cells had diminished cytokine production. Upon T cell receptor activation, Bim-deficient T cells exhibited severe defects in both calcium release and dephosphorylation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) but maintained normal levels of activation of NF-κB and MAPKs. The defective calcium signaling in Bim-deficient T cells was associated with a significant increase in the formation of an inhibitory complex containing Bcl2 and the inositol triphosphate receptor (IP3R). Thus, in addition to mediating the death of autoreactive T cells, Bim also controlled T cell activation through the IP3R/calcium/NFAT pathway. These results indicate that a single protein is used to control both the activation and apoptosis of autoreactive T cells and may explain why Bim-deficient mice do not reject their own organs despite lacking thymic negative selection.
Maciej W. Ludwinski, Jing Sun, Brendan Hilliard, Shunyou Gong, Fan Xue, Ruaidhri J. Carmody, Jennifer DeVirgiliis, Youhai H. Chen
The clear association of Th17 cells with autoimmune pathogenicity implicates Th17 cytokines as critical mediators of chronic autoimmune diseases such as EAE. To study the impact of IL-17A on CNS inflammation, we generated transgenic mice in which high levels of expression of IL-17A could be initiated after Cre-mediated recombination. Although ubiquitous overexpression of IL-17A led to skin inflammation and granulocytosis, T cell–specific IL-17A overexpression did not have a perceptible impact on the development and health of the mice. In the context of EAE, neither the T cell–driven overexpression of IL-17A nor its complete loss had a major impact on the development of clinical disease. Since IL-17F may be able to compensate for the loss of IL-17A, we also generated IL-17F–deficient mice. This strain was fully susceptible to EAE and displayed unaltered emergence and expansion of autoreactive T cells during disease. To eliminate potential compensatory effects of either cytokine, we treated IL-17F–deficient mice with antagonistic monoclonal antibodies specific for IL-17A and found again only a minimal beneficial impact on disease development. We conclude therefore that both IL-17A and IL-17F, while prominently expressed by an encephalitogenic T cell population, may only marginally contribute to the development of autoimmune CNS disease.
Stefan Haak, Andrew L. Croxford, Katharina Kreymborg, Frank L. Heppner, Sandrine Pouly, Burkhard Becher, Ari Waisman
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