To understand the mechanism of T cell help for IgG production in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) we investigated the response of CD4- and CD8-negative (double-negative (DN)) T cells because 1) DN T cells are present at unusually high frequency in patients with SLE and can induce pathogenic autoantibodies; 2) the DN T cell repertoire includes cells restricted by CD1 Ag-presenting molecules; and 3) CD1c is expressed on a population of circulating B cells. We derived DN T cell lines from SLE patients and healthy individuals. In the presence of CD1+ APCs, DN T cell lines from SLE patients produced both IL-4 and IFN-γ, whereas DN T cells from healthy donors produced IFN-γ, but no IL-4. In general, cells from patients with highly active disease produced high levels of IFN-γ; cells from those with little activity produced high IL-4. Coculture of CD1c-directly reactive T cells from healthy donors with CD1c+ B cells elicited IgM Abs, but little or no IgG. In contrast, CD1c-directly reactive T cells from SLE patients induced isotype switching, with a striking increase in IgG production. Neutralizing Abs to CD1c inhibited the ability of DN T cells to induce IgG production from CD1c+ B cells, further indicating that CD1c mediated the T and B cell interaction. IgG production was also inhibited by neutralizing Abs to IL-4, correlating with the cytokine pattern of DN T cells derived from these patients. The data suggest that CD1c-restricted T cells from SLE patients can provide help to CD1c+ B cells for IgG production and could therefore promote pathogenic autoantibody responses in SLE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy