CD4 T cells, lymphopenia, and IL-7 in a multistep pathway to autoimmunity

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Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 227 words

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Abstract :

There are many inhibitory mechanisms that function at the cellular and molecular levels to maintain tolerance. Despite this, self-reactive clones escape regulatory mechanisms and cause autoimmunity in certain circumstances. We hypothesized that the same mechanisms that permit T cells to expand during homeostatic proliferation may inadvertently promote autoimmunity under certain conditions. One major homeostatic cytokine is IL-7, and studies have linked it or its receptor to the development of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases. We show in a model of [beta]-islet cell self-reactivity that the transfer of activated autoreactive CD4 T cells can prime and expand endogenous autoreactive CD8 T cells in a CD28- and CD40-dependent manner through the licensing of dendritic cells. Despite this, mice do not develop diabetes. However, the provision of exogenous IL-7 or the physiological production of IL-7 associated with lymphopenia was able to profoundly promote the expansion of self-reactive clones even in the presence of regulatory T cells. Autoimmune diabetes rapidly ensued with CD4 help and the subsequent activation of CD8 T cells, which contributed to disease progression. With the advent of many biologicals targeting TNF[alpha], IL-6, and IL-1 and their effective use in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, we propose that IL-7 and its receptor may be promising targets for biological agents in the treatment of autoimmunity. lymphocyte homeostasis | CD8 T cells | cytokines | dendritic cells | cyclophosphamide

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A176776846