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Nat Med. 2014 Jan;20(1):62-8. doi: 10.1038/nm.3432. Epub 2013 Dec 22.

Pathogenic conversion of Foxp3+ T cells into TH17 cells in autoimmune arthritis.

Author information

  • 11] Department of Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [2] Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) Program, Takayanagi Osteonetwork Project, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
  • 21] Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) Program, Takayanagi Osteonetwork Project, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [2] Department of Cell Signaling, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [3] JST, Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology Program, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
  • 31] Department of Cell Signaling, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [2] JST, Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology Program, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [3] Global Center of Excellence (GCOE) Program, International Research Center for Molecular Science in Tooth and Bone Diseases, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
  • 4Laboratory for Systems Biology and Medicine, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
  • 5Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
  • 6Diabetes Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
  • 71] Department of Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [2] Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) Program, Takayanagi Osteonetwork Project, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. [3] Centre for Orthopaedic Research, School of Surgery, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia.

Abstract

Autoimmune diseases often result from an imbalance between regulatory T (Treg) cells and interleukin-17 (IL-17)-producing T helper (TH17) cells; the origin of the latter cells remains largely unknown. Foxp3 is indispensable for the suppressive function of Treg cells, but the stability of Foxp3 has been under debate. Here we show that TH17 cells originating from Foxp3(+) T cells have a key role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune arthritis. Under arthritic conditions, CD25(lo)Foxp3(+)CD4(+) T cells lose Foxp3 expression (herein called exFoxp3 cells) and undergo transdifferentiation into TH17 cells. Fate mapping analysis showed that IL-17-expressing exFoxp3 T (exFoxp3 TH17) cells accumulated in inflamed joints. The conversion of Foxp3(+)CD4(+) T cells to TH17 cells was mediated by synovial fibroblast-derived IL-6. These exFoxp3 TH17 cells were more potent osteoclastogenic T cells than were naive CD4(+) T cell-derived TH17 cells. Notably, exFoxp3 TH17 cells were characterized by the expression of Sox4, chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 6 (CCR6), chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 20 (CCL20), IL-23 receptor (IL-23R) and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL, also called TNFSF11). Adoptive transfer of autoreactive, antigen-experienced CD25(lo)Foxp3(+)CD4(+) T cells into mice followed by secondary immunization with collagen accelerated the onset and increased the severity of arthritis and was associated with the loss of Foxp3 expression in the majority of transferred T cells. We observed IL-17(+)Foxp3(+) T cells in the synovium of subjects with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which suggests that plastic Foxp3(+) T cells contribute to the pathogenesis of RA. These findings establish the pathological importance of Foxp3 instability in the generation of pathogenic TH17 cells in autoimmunity.

PMID:
24362934
DOI:
10.1038/nm.3432
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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