Dysregulated cytokine expression by T cells plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. However, the identification of the corresponding pathogenic subpopulations is a challenge, since a distinction between physiological variation and a new quality in the expression of protein markers requires combinatorial evaluation. Here, we were able to identify a super-functional follicular helper T cell (Tfh)-like subpopulation in lupus-prone NZBxW mice with our binning approach "pattern recognition of immune cells (PRI)". PRI uncovered a subpopulation of IL-21+ IFN-ghigh PD-1low CD40Lhigh CXCR5- Bcl-6- T cells specifically expanded in diseased mice. In addition, these cells express high levels of TNF-a and IL-2, and provide B cell help for IgG production in an IL-21 and CD40L dependent manner. This super-functional T cell subset might be a superior driver of autoimmune processes due to a polyfunctional and high cytokine expression combined with Tfh-like properties.
- Ria Baumgrass
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Animal experiments were approved by the local ethics committee LaGeSo (Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales) Berlin under animal experiment licenses T0187-01 and G0070/13.
- Bernard Malissen, Centre d'Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, Aix Marseille Université, France
© 2020, Gryzik et al.
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