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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 20;8(9):e75166. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075166. eCollection 2013.

T cell and dendritic cell abnormalities synergize to expand pro-inflammatory T cell subsets leading to fatal autoimmunity in B6.NZBc1 lupus-prone mice.

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Arthritis Centre of Excellence, Division of Genetics and Development, Toronto Western Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ; Department of Immunology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


We have previously shown that B6 congenic mice with a New Zealand Black chromosome 1 (c1) 96-100 cM interval produce anti-nuclear Abs and that at least two additional genetic loci are required to convert this subclinical disease to fatal glomerulonephritis in mice with a c1 70-100 cM interval (c1(70-100)). Here we show that the number of T follicular helper and IL-21-, IFN-γ-, and IL-17-secreting CD4(+) T cells parallels disease severity and the number of susceptibility loci in these mice. Immunization of pre-autoimmune mice with OVA recapitulated these differences. Differentiation of naïve T cells in-vitro under polarizing conditions and in-vivo following adoptive transfer of OVA-specific TCR transgenic cells into c1(70-100) or B6 recipient mice, revealed T cell functional defects leading to increased differentiation of IFN-γ- and IL-17-producing cells in the 96-100 cM and 88-96 cM intervals, respectively. However, in-vivo enhanced differentiation of pro-inflammatory T cell subsets was predominantly restricted to c1(70-100) recipient mice, which demonstrated altered dendritic cell function, with increased production of IL-6 and IL-12. The data provide support for the role of pro-inflammatory T cells in the conversion of subclinical disease to fatal autoimmunity and highlight the importance of synergistic interactions between individual susceptibility loci in this process.

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