MRL/MpJ-Tnfrsf6lpr (MRL-Faslpr) mice develop a spontaneous T cell-dependent autoimmune disease that shares features with human lupus, including fatal nephritis, systemic pathology, and autoantibodies (autoAb). The inducible co-stimulator (ICOS) is upregulated on activated T cells and modulates T cell-mediated responses. To investigate whether ICOS has an essential role in regulating autoimmune lupus nephritis and the systemic illness in MRL-Faslpr mice, ICOS null (-/-) MRL Faslpr and ICOS intact (+/+) MRL-Faslpr strains (wild-type [WT]) were generated and compared. It was determined that in ICOS-/- MRL-Faslpr as compared with the WT strain, (1) there is a significant reduction in circulating IgG and double-stranded DNA autoantibody isotype titers, and (2) there is an amplification of the frequency of intrarenal T cells generating IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha in ICOS-/- versus WT mice. Of note, eliminating ICOS in the MRL-Faslpr strain does not alter renal pathology or function. Despite the reduction in circulating IgG and autoantibody isotypes (G1, G2a, and G2b), the amount of these IgG isotypes depositing in kidneys is similar. Furthermore, the systemic illness (skin, salivary and lacrimal glands, lungs, lymphadenopathy, and splenomegaly) is equivalent in ICOS-/- MRL-Faslpr and WT mice. These findings highlight the danger of relying on individual parameters, such as quantitative serum Ig levels and T cell functions, as prognostic indicators of lupus.
2B4 belongs to the CD2 subset of the IgG family of receptors. Members in this family have been shown to function as coreceptors via homophilic or heterophilic interactions. Both 2B4 and CD2 bind to CD48, another member of this family. Because all 3 molecules are expressed on natural killer (NK) cells, it raises a possibility that the binding of 2B4 and CD2 to CD48 among NK cells may have functional consequences. Using specific monoclonal antibodies and gene-deficient NK cells, we found that 2B4/CD48, but not CD2/CD48, interaction is essential for IL-2-driven expansion and activation of murine NK cells. In the absence of 2B4/CD48 interaction, NK cytotoxicity and IFN-gamma secretion on tumor target exposure is severely impaired. Impaired activation of NK cells in 2B4-deficient mice was also demonstrated by poor NK-mediated clearance of syngeneic tumor cells in these mice. Functional impairment of NK cells in the absence of 2B4/CD48 interactions was accompanied by defective calcium signaling, suggesting that the early signaling pathway of NK receptors is inhibited. Finally, homotypic interactions among NK cells through 2B4/CD48 was visualized by specific localization of GFP-tagged 2B4 onto NK-NK conjugation sites. Thus, these data identify a novel mechanism whereby NK effector function is regulated via homotypic 2B4/CD48 interactions.
Naturally occurring CD4+ regulatory T cells (T(R)) that express CD25 and the transcription factor FoxP3 play a key role in immune homeostasis, preventing immune pathological responses to self and foreign Ags. CTLA-4 is expressed by a high percentage of these cells, and is often considered as a marker for T(R) in experimental and clinical analysis. However, it has not yet been proven that CTLA-4 has a direct role in T(R) function. In this study, using a T cell-mediated colitis model, we demonstrate that anti-CTLA-4 mAb treatment inhibits T(R) function in vivo via direct effects on CTLA-4-expressing T(R), and not via hyperactivation of colitogenic effector T cells. Although anti-CTLA-4 mAb treatment completely inhibits T(R) function, it does not reduce T(R) numbers or their homing to the GALT, suggesting the Ab mediates its function by blockade of a signal required for T(R) activity. In contrast to the striking effect of the Ab, CTLA-4-deficient mice can produce functional T(R), suggesting that under some circumstances other immune regulatory mechanisms, including the production of IL-10, are able to compensate for the loss of the CTLA-4-mediated pathway. This study provides direct evidence that CTLA-4 has a specific, nonredundant role in the function of normal T(R). This role has to be taken into account when targeting CTLA-4 for therapeutic purposes, as such a strategy will not only boost effector T cell responses, but might also break T(R)-mediated self-tolerance.
BACKGROUND: T-cell-mediated immunity contributes to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, but little is known about how these responses are regulated. We explored the influence of the inducible costimulatory molecule (ICOS) on atherosclerosis and associated immune responses.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Bone marrow chimeras were generated by transplanting ICOS-deficient or wild-type bone marrow into irradiated atherosclerosis-prone, LDR receptor-deficient mice, and the chimeric mice were fed a high-cholesterol diet for 8 weeks. Compared with controls, mice transplanted with ICOS-deficient marrow had a 43% increase in the atherosclerotic burden, and importantly, their lesions had a 3-fold increase in CD4+ T cells, as well as increased macrophage, smooth muscle cell, and collagen content. CD4+ T cells from ICOS-deficient chimeras proliferated more and secreted more interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha than T cells from control mice, which suggests a lack of regulation. FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) were found to constitutively express high ICOS levels, which suggests a role for ICOS in Treg function. ICOS-deficient mice had decreased numbers of FoxP3+ Treg and impaired in vitro Treg suppressive function compared with control mice.
CONCLUSIONS: ICOS has a key role in regulation of atherosclerosis, through its effect on regulatory T-cell responses.
To compare the roles of programmed death 1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) and PD-L2 in regulating immunity to infection, we investigated responses of mice lacking PD-L1 or PD-L2 to infection with Leishmania mexicana. PD-L1(-/-) and PD-L2(-/-) mice exhibited distinct disease outcomes following infection with L. mexicana. In comparison to susceptible WT mice, PD-L1(-/-) mice showed resistance to L. mexicana, as demonstrated by reduced growth of cutaneous lesions and parasite burden. In contrast, PD-L2(-/-) mice developed exacerbated disease with increased parasite burden. Host resistance to L. mexicana is partly associated with the development of a Th1 response and down-regulation of the Th2 response. Both PD-L1(-/-) and PD-L2(-/-) mice produced levels of IFN-gamma similar to WT mice. However, the development of IL-4-producing cells was reduced in PD-L1(-/-) mice, demonstrating a role for PD-L1 in regulating Th cell differentiation. This inadequate Th2 response may explain the increased resistance of PD-L1(-/-) mice. Although no alterations in Th1/Th2 skewing were observed in PD-L2(-/-) mice, PD-L2(-/-) mice exhibited a marked increase in L. mexicana-specific antibody production. Increased Leishmania-specific IgG production may suppress the healing response through FcgammaR ligation on macrophages. Taken together, our results demonstrate that PD-L1 and PD-L2 have distinct roles in regulating the immune response to L. mexicana.
The programmed death (PD)-1-PD-1 ligand (PD-L) pathway, which is part of the B7-CD28 family, consists of the PD-1 receptor and its two ligands PD-L1 and PD-L2. Engagement of PD-1 by its ligands inhibits immune responses, and recent work has shown that PD-1 is highly expressed on exhausted T cells during chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection in mice. Blockade of this pathway reinvigorates the exhausted T cells, allowing them to expand and produce effector cytokines, raising the issue of whether this pathway has been exploited by a variety of viruses during chronic infection. New studies now extend these observations to HIV infection and human disease.
Functional impairment of antigen-specific T cells is a defining characteristic of many chronic infections, but the underlying mechanisms of T-cell dysfunction are not well understood. To address this question, we analysed genes expressed in functionally impaired virus-specific CD8 T cells present in mice chronically infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), and compared these with the gene profile of functional memory CD8 T cells. Here we report that PD-1 (programmed death 1; also known as Pdcd1) was selectively upregulated by the exhausted T cells, and that in vivo administration of antibodies that blocked the interaction of this inhibitory receptor with its ligand, PD-L1 (also known as B7-H1), enhanced T-cell responses. Notably, we found that even in persistently infected mice that were lacking CD4 T-cell help, blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitory pathway had a beneficial effect on the 'helpless' CD8 T cells, restoring their ability to undergo proliferation, secrete cytokines, kill infected cells and decrease viral load. Blockade of the CTLA-4 (cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4) inhibitory pathway had no effect on either T-cell function or viral control. These studies identify a specific mechanism of T-cell exhaustion and define a potentially effective immunological strategy for the treatment of chronic viral infections.
Programmed death 1 (PD-1), an inhibitory receptor expressed on activated lymphocytes, regulates tolerance and autoimmunity. PD-1 has two ligands: PD-1 ligand 1 (PD-L1), which is expressed broadly on hematopoietic and parenchymal cells, including pancreatic islet cells; and PD-L2, which is restricted to macrophages and dendritic cells. To investigate whether PD-L1 and PD-L2 have synergistic or unique roles in regulating T cell activation and tolerance, we generated mice lacking PD-L1 and PD-L2 (PD-L1/PD-L2(-/-) mice) and compared them to mice lacking either PD-L. PD-L1 and PD-L2 have overlapping functions in inhibiting interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma production during T cell activation. However, PD-L1 has a unique and critical role in controlling self-reactive T cells in the pancreas. Our studies with bone marrow chimeras demonstrate that PD-L1/PD-L2 expression only on antigen-presenting cells is insufficient to prevent the early onset diabetes that develops in PD-L1/PD-L2(-/-) non-obese diabetic mice. PD-L1 expression in islets protects against immunopathology after transplantation of syngeneic islets into diabetic recipients. PD-L1 inhibits pathogenic self-reactive CD4+ T cell-mediated tissue destruction and effector cytokine production. These data provide evidence that PD-L1 expression on parenchymal cells rather than hematopoietic cells protects against autoimmune diabetes and point to a novel role for PD-1-PD-L1 interactions in mediating tissue tolerance.