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1.  Mast Cells Are Essential for Early Onset and Severe Disease in a Murine Model of Multiple Sclerosis 
In addition to their well characterized role in allergic inflammation, recent data confirm that mast cells play a more extensive role in a variety of immune responses. However, their contribution to autoimmune and neurologic disease processes has not been investigated. Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) and its human disease counterpart, multiple sclerosis, are considered to be CD4+ T cell–mediated autoimmune diseases affecting the central nervous system. Several lines of indirect evidence suggest that mast cells could also play a role in the pathogenesis of both the human and murine disease. Using a myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-induced model of acute EAE, we show that mast cell–deficient W/Wv mice exhibit significantly reduced disease incidence, delayed disease onset, and decreased mean clinical scores when compared with their wild-type congenic littermates. No differences were observed in MOG-specific T and B cell responses between the two groups, indicating that a global T or B cell defect is not present in W/Wv animals. Reconstitution of the mast cell population in W/Wv mice restores induction of early and severe disease to wild-type levels, suggesting that mast cells are critical for the full manifestation of disease. These data provide a new mechanism for immune destruction in EAE and indicate that mast cells play a broader role in neurologic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2195850  PMID: 10704463
autoimmunity; demyelinating diseases; experimental allergic encephalomyelitis; inflammation; myelin-associated glycoprotein
2.  Th17 cells in autoimmune demyelinating disease 
Seminars in immunopathology  2010;32(1):71-77.
Recently published studies in multiple sclerosis (MS) and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) have demonstrated an association between the development of demyelinating plaques and the accumulation of Th17 cells in the central nervous system and periphery. However, a causal relationship has been difficult to establish. In fact, in reports published thus far, interleukin (IL)-17A deficiency or neutralization in vivo attenuates, but does not completely abrogate, EAE. There is growing evidence that clinically similar forms of autoimmune demyelinating disease can be driven by myelin-specific T cells of distinct lineages with different degrees of dependence on IL-17A production to achieve their pathological effects. While such observations cast doubts about the potential therapeutic efficacy of Th17 blocking agents in MS, the collective data suggest that IL-17A expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells could serve as a surrogate biomarker of neuroinflammation and plaque formation and be a useful outcome measure for future clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2874248  PMID: 20195867
Autoimmunity; Neuroimmunology; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Multiple sclerosis; Interleukin-17; Th17 cells
3.  Th17 Cells Induce Ectopic Lymphoid Follicles in Central Nervous System Tissue Inflammation 
Immunity  2011;35(6):986-996.
Ectopic lymphoid follicles are hallmarks of chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and myasthenia gravis. However, the effector cells and mechanisms that induce their development are unknown. Here we showed that in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of MS, Th17 cells specifically induced ectopic lymphoid follicles in the central nervous system (CNS). Development of ectopic lymphoid follicles was partly dependent on the cytokine interleukin 17 (IL-17) and on the cell surface molecule Podoplanin (Pdp), which was expressed on Th17 cells, but not on other effector T cell subsets. Pdp was also crucial for the development of secondary lymphoid structures: Pdp-deficient mice lacked peripheral lymph nodes and had a defect in forming normal lymphoid follicles and germinal centers in spleen and lymph node remnants. Thus, Th17 cells are uniquely endowed to induce tissue inflammation, characterized by ectopic lymphoid follicles within the target organ.
PMCID: PMC3422678  PMID: 22177922
4.  Fenofibrate Inhibited the Differentiation of T Helper 17 Cells In Vitro 
PPAR Research  2012;2012:145654.
Uncontrolled activity of T cells mediates autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Recent findings suggest that enhanced activity of interleukin-17 (IL-17) producing T helper 17 cells (Th17 cells) plays an important role in autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases. Previous papers have revealed that a lipid-lowering synthetic ligand of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα), fenofibrate, alleviates both atherosclerosis and a few nonlipid-associated autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune colitis and multiple sclerosis. However, the link between fenofibrate and Th17 cells is lacking. In the present study, we hypothesized that fenofibrate inhibited the differentiation of Th17 cells. Our results showed that fenofibrate inhibited transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and IL-6-induced differentiation of Th17 cells in vitro. However, other PPARα ligands such as WY14643, GW7647 and bezafibrate did not show any effect on Th17 differentiation, indicating that this effect of fenofibrate might be PPARα independent. Furthermore, our data showed that fenofibrate reduced IL-21 production and STAT3 activation, a critical signal in the Th17 differentiation. Thus, by ameliorating the differentiation of Th17 cells, fenofibrate might be beneficial for autoimmunity and inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3388320  PMID: 22792085
5.  A20-Deficient Mast Cells Exacerbate Inflammatory Responses In Vivo 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(1):e1001762.
Mast cells, best known as effector cells in pathogenic immunoglobulin-mediated responses, can sense a variety of “danger” signals; if manipulated to enhance their resulting inflammatory responses, they also exacerbate inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and lung inflammation.
Mast cells are implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. However, this notion based on studies in mast cell-deficient mice is controversial. We therefore established an in vivo model for hyperactive mast cells by specifically ablating the NF-κB negative feedback regulator A20. While A20 deficiency did not affect mast cell degranulation, it resulted in amplified pro-inflammatory responses downstream of IgE/FcεRI, TLRs, IL-1R, and IL-33R. As a consequence house dust mite- and IL-33-driven lung inflammation, late phase cutaneous anaphylaxis, and collagen-induced arthritis were aggravated, in contrast to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and immediate anaphylaxis. Our results provide in vivo evidence that hyperactive mast cells can exacerbate inflammatory disorders and define diseases that might benefit from therapeutic intervention with mast cell function.
Author Summary
Mast cells mediate allergic and anaphylactic immune reactions. They are also equipped with innate pattern recognition, cytokine, and alarmin receptors, which induce inflammatory responses. Correlative studies in human patients hinted at roles for mast cells in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. However, studies using mast cell-deficient mice have yielded contradictory results in this context. In this study we determined that A20, the negative feedback regulator, restricts inflammation downstream of the mast cell antigen (allergen) receptor module, innate pattern recognition receptors, and the alarmin receptor IL-33R. By mast cell–specific ablation of A20 we established a mouse model for exaggerated inflammatory but normal anaphylactic mast cell signaling. With these mice we evaluated the impact of increased mast cell-mediated inflammation under experimental conditions aimed at mimicking several inflammatory human diseases. Our results demonstrated that the lack of A20 from mast cells exacerbated disease in mouse models for rheumatoid arthritis and innate forms of asthma, but did not impact disease progression in a mouse model for multiple sclerosis. Our data provide direct evidence that enhanced inflammatory mast cell responses can contribute to disease pathology and do so via sensing and amplifying local inflammatory reactions driven by “danger” stimuli and/or tissue damage that leads to the release of alarmins.
PMCID: PMC3891641  PMID: 24453940
6.  Current Views on the Roles of Th1 and Th17 Cells in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis 
Multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), are autoimmune demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). Interferon-γ-producing Th1 and interleukin-17-producing Th17 CD4+ T helper (Th) cells mediate disease pathogenesis in EAE and likely in MS as well. However, the relative contribution of each Th subset to autoimmune processes in the CNS remains unclear. Emerging data suggest that both Th1 and Th17 cells contribute to CNS autoimmunity, albeit through different mechanisms. A better understanding of the roles that Th1 and Th17 cells play in autoimmune inflammation will be helpful in developing new therapeutic approaches. In this review, we discuss recent findings on the roles of Th1 and Th17 cells in the pathogenesis of EAE.
PMCID: PMC2866798  PMID: 20107924
EAE; autoimmunity; IL-17; IL-23; interferon gamma; Th1 cells; Th17 cells; T-bet; ROR gamma T
7.  CXCL12 (SDF-1α) suppresses ongoing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis by selecting antigen-specific regulatory T cells 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2008;205(11):2643-2655.
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a T cell–mediated autoimmune disease of the central nervous system induced by antigen-specific effector Th17 and Th1 cells. We show that a key chemokine, CXCL12 (stromal cell–derived factor 1α), redirects the polarization of effector Th1 cells into CD4+CD25−Foxp3−interleukin (IL) 10high antigen-specific regulatory T cells in a CXCR4-dependent manner, and by doing so acts as a regulatory mediator restraining the autoimmune inflammatory process. In an attempt to explore the therapeutic implication of these findings, we have generated a CXCL12-immunoglobulin (Ig) fusion protein that, when administered during ongoing EAE, rapidly suppresses the disease in wild-type but not IL-10–deficient mice. Anti–IL-10 neutralizing antibodies could reverse this suppression. The beneficial effect included selection of antigen-specific T cells that were CD4+CD25−Foxp3−IL-10high, which could adoptively transfer disease resistance, and suppression of Th17 selection. However, in vitro functional analysis of these cells suggested that, even though CXCL12-Ig–induced tolerance is IL-10 dependent, IL-10–independent mechanisms may also contribute to their regulatory function. Collectively, our results not only demonstrate, for the first time, that a chemokine functions as a regulatory mediator, but also suggest a novel way for treating multiple sclerosis and possibly other inflammatory autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC2571938  PMID: 18852294
8.  Myelin Activates FAK/Akt/NF-κB Pathways and Provokes CR3-Dependent Inflammatory Response in Murine System 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9380.
Inflammatory response following central nervous system (CNS) injury contributes to progressive neuropathology and reduction in functional recovery. Axons are sensitive to mechanical injury and toxic inflammatory mediators, which may lead to demyelination. Although it is well documented that degenerated myelin triggers undesirable inflammatory responses in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), there has been very little study of the direct inflammatory consequences of damaged myelin in spinal cord injury (SCI), i.e., there is no direct evidence to show that myelin debris from injured spinal cord can trigger undesirable inflammation in vitro and in vivo. Our data showed that myelin can initiate inflammatory responses in vivo, which is complement receptor 3 (CR3)-dependent via stimulating macrophages to express pro-inflammatory molecules and down-regulates expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Mechanism study revealed that myelin-increased cytokine expression is through activation of FAK/PI3K/Akt/NF-κB signaling pathways and CR3 contributes to myelin-induced PI3K/Akt/NF-κB activation and cytokine production. The myelin induced inflammatory response is myelin specific as sphingomyelin (the major lipid of myelin) and myelin basic protein (MBP, one of the major proteins of myelin) are not able to activate NF-κB signaling pathway. In conclusion, our results demonstrate a crucial role of myelin as an endogenous inflammatory stimulus that induces pro-inflammatory responses and suggest that blocking myelin-CR3 interaction and enhancing myelin debris clearance may be effective interventions for treating SCI.
PMCID: PMC2826415  PMID: 20186338
9.  Inhibition of the immunoproteasome ameliorates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2014;6(2):226-238.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating immune mediated disease of the central nervous system. The immunoproteasome is a distinct class of proteasomes found predominantly in monocytes and lymphocytes. Recently, we demonstrated a novel function of immunoproteasomes in cytokine production and T cell differentiation. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic efficacy of an inhibitor of the immunoproteasome (ONX 0914) in two different mouse models of MS. ONX 0914 attenuated disease progression after active and passive induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), both in MOG35–55 and PLP139–151-induced EAE. Isolation of lymphocytes from the brain or spinal cord revealed a strong reduction of cytokine-producing CD4+ cells in ONX 0914 treated mice. Additionally, ONX 0914 treatment prevented disease exacerbation in a relapsing-remitting model. An analysis of draining lymph nodes after induction of EAE revealed that the differentiation to Th17 or Th1 cells was strongly impaired in ONX 0914 treated mice. These results implicate the immunoproteasome in the development of EAE and suggest that immunoproteasome inhibitors are promising drugs for the treatment of MS.
PMCID: PMC3927957  PMID: 24399752
experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; immunoproteasome; multiple sclerosis; proteasome
10.  IL-25 regulates Th17 function in autoimmune inflammation 
Interleukin (IL)-25 is a member of the IL-17 family of cytokines. However, unlike the other members of this family, IL-25 promotes T helper (Th) 2 responses. We now show that IL-25 also regulates the development of autoimmune inflammation mediated by IL-17–producing T cells. We have generated IL-25–deficient (il25−/−) mice and found that they are highly susceptible to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The accelerated disease in the il25−/− mice is associated with an increase of IL-23 in the periphery and a subsequent increase in the number of inflammatory IL-17–, IFNγ-, and TNF-producing T cells that invade the central nervous system. Neutralization of IL-17 but not IFNγ in il25−/− mice prevented EAE, suggesting that IL-17 is a major disease-promoting factor. IL-25 treatment at several time points during a relapse-remitting model or chronic model of EAE completely suppressed disease. IL-25 treatment induced elevated production of IL-13, which is required for suppression of Th17 responses by direct inhibition of IL-23, IL-1β, and IL-6 expression in activated dendritic cells. Thus, IL-25 and IL-17, being members of the same cytokine family, play opposing roles in the pathogenesis of organ-specific autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2118427  PMID: 17200411
11.  Monocyte Chemotactic Protein 1 Regulates Oral Tolerance Induction by Inhibition of T Helper Cell 1–related Cytokines  
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a T cell–mediated autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that serves as an animal model for multiple sclerosis. Antigen-specific tolerance regimens, including oral tolerance, have been used prophylactically to prevent development of acute EAE as well as a number of other autoimmune diseases. Two mechanisms have been proposed to explain the immunologic basis for disease inhibition: bystander immune suppression and clonal anergy/deletion. This report demonstrates a novel mechanism for monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 as a regulatory factor of oral tolerance. Oral administration of proteolipid protein peptide (PLP139–151) increased MCP-1 expression in the intestinal mucosa, Peyer's patch, and mesenteric lymph nodes. Increase in MCP-1 expression resulted in downregulation of mucosal interleukin (IL)-12 expression with concomitant increase in mucosal IL-4 expression. Functionally, MCP-1 upregulation was shown to regulate oral tolerance induction by the ability of antibodies to MCP-1 to inhibit tolerance induction. The anti–MCP-1 abrogation of oral tolerance induction also resulted in restoration of mucosal IL-12 expression as well as peripheral antigen-specific T helper cell 1 responses. These results demonstrate a novel and important role for MCP-1 in the regulation or oral tolerance for the prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC2212174  PMID: 9480983
12.  Transforming Growth Factor β and CD25 Are Important for Controlling Systemic Dissemination following Yersinia enterocolitica Infection of the Gut▿  
Infection and Immunity  2010;78(9):3716-3725.
Infection of the gut by invasive bacterial pathogens leads to robust inflammatory responses that if left unchecked can lead to autoimmune disease and other sequelae. How the immune system controls inflammation and limits collateral damage to the host during acute bacterial infection is poorly understood. Here, we report that antibody-mediated neutralization of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) prior to infection with the model enteric pathogen Yersinia enterocolitica reduces the mean time to death by 1 day (P = 0.001), leads to rapid colonization of the liver and lung, and is associated with exacerbation of inflammatory histopathology. During Yersinia enterocolitica infection CD4+ cells are the source of de novo TGF-β transcription in the Peyer's patches, mesenteric lymph nodes, and spleen. Correspondingly there is both antigen-specific and -independent expansion of CD4+ CD25+ Foxp3+ and TGF-β+ T-regulatory cells (T-regs) after Yersinia infection that is reduced in ovalbumin T-cell receptor-restricted OT-II mice. Functional inactivation of CD25 by anti-CD25 treatment results in more rapid death, dissemination of the bacteria to the liver and lungs, and exacerbated inflammatory histopathology, similar to what is seen during TGF-β neutralization. Altogether, these data suggest that TGF-β produced by T-regs is important in restricting bacteria during the acute phase of invasive bacterial infection of the gut. These data expand the roles of T-regs to include tempering inflammation during acute infection in addition to the well-established roles of T-regs in chronic infection, control of immune homeostasis, and autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC2937473  PMID: 20584975
13.  Upregulation and coexpression of adhesion molecules correlate with relapsing autoimmune demyelination in the central nervous system 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1990;172(5):1521-1524.
The expression of adhesion molecules on central nervous system (CNS) vessels was examined during chronic relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in the SJL mouse. Two molecules associated with cell adhesion were studied: MECA-325, a murine lymph node high endothelial venule marker; and MALA-2, the murine homologue of intercellular adhesion molecule 1. During initial disease, upregulated coexpression of these two molecules occurred in the CNS. This correlated with inflammatory cell invasion. During remission, expression was downregulated, and each subsequent relapse was accompanied by corresponding upregulation. Thus, up- and downregulation of adhesion molecules in the target organ appeared to form an integral part of the inflammatory process in this autoimmune condition and support a role for receptor-mediated inflammatory cell invasion of relevance to the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2188652  PMID: 2172438
14.  Liver X receptor (LXR) mediates negative regulation of mouse and human Th17 differentiation 
Th17 cells are a subset of CD4+ T cells with an important role in clearing certain bacterial and fungal pathogens. However, they have also been implicated in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Exposure of naive CD4+ T cells to IL-6 and TGF-β leads to Th17 cell differentiation through a process in which many proteins have been implicated. We report here that ectopic expression of liver X receptor (LXR) inhibits Th17 polarization of mouse CD4+ T cells, while LXR deficiency promotes Th17 differentiation in vitro. LXR activation in mice ameliorated disease in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of multiple sclerosis, whereas LXR deficiency exacerbated disease. Further analysis revealed that Srebp-1, which is encoded by an LXR target gene, mediated the suppression of Th17 differentiation by binding to the E-box element on the Il17 promoter, physically interacting with aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahr) and inhibiting Ahr-controlled Il17 transcription. The putative active site (PAS) domain of Ahr and the N-terminal acidic region of Srebp-1 were essential for this interaction. Additional analyses suggested that similar LXR-dependent mechanisms were operational during human Th17 differentiation in vitro. This study reports what we believe to be a novel signaling pathway underlying LXR-mediated regulation of Th17 cell differentiation and autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3026720  PMID: 21266776
15.  Glia-dependent TGF-β signaling, acting independently of the TH17 pathway, is critical for initiation of murine autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(11):3306-3315.
Autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a mouse model for multiple sclerosis, is characterized by the activation of immune cells, demyelination of axons in the CNS, and paralysis. We found that TGF-β1 synthesis in glial cells and TGF-β–induced signaling in the CNS were activated several days before the onset of paralysis in mice with autoimmune encephalomyelitis. While early production of TGF-β1 was observed in glial cells TGF-β signaling was activated in neurons and later in infiltrating T cells in inflammatory lesions. Systemic treatment with a pharmacological inhibitor of TGF-β signaling ameliorated the paralytic disease and reduced the accumulation of pathogenic T cells and expression of IL-6 in the CNS. Priming of peripheral T cells was not altered, nor was the generation of TH17 cells, indicating that this effect was directed within the brain, yet affected the immune system. These results suggest that early production of TGF-β1 in the CNS creates a permissive and dangerous environment for the initiation of autoimmune inflammation, providing a rare example of the brain modulating the immune system. Importantly, inhibition of TGF-β signaling may have benefits in the treatment of the acute phase of autoimmune CNS inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2040317  PMID: 17965773
16.  Mast Cells Control Neutrophil Recruitment during T Cell–Mediated Delayed-Type Hypersensitivity Reactions through Tumor Necrosis Factor and Macrophage Inflammatory Protein 2 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2000;192(10):1441-1452.
Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) characterize the pathology of T cell–mediated autoimmune diseases and delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions (DTHRs) in the skin, joints, and gut, but are absent in T cell–mediated autoimmune diseases of the brain or pancreas. All of these reactions are mediated by interferon γ–producing type 1 T cells and produce a similar pattern of cytokines. Thus, the cells and mediators responsible for the PMN recruitment into skin, joints, or gut during DTHRs remain unknown. Analyzing hapten-induced DTHRs of the skin, we found that mast cells determine the T cell–dependent PMN recruitment through two mediators, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and the CXC chemokine macrophage inflammatory protein 2 (MIP-2), the functional analogue of human interleukin 8. Extractable MIP-2 protein was abundant during DTHRs in and around mast cells of wild-type (WT) mice but absent in mast cell–deficient WBB6F1-KitW/KitW-v (KitW/KitW-v) mice. T cell–dependent PMN recruitment was reduced >60% by anti–MIP-2 antibodies and >80% in mast cell–deficient KitW/KitW-v mice. Mast cells from WT mice efficiently restored DTHRs and MIP-2–dependent PMN recruitment in KitW/KitW-v mice, whereas mast cells from TNF−/− mice did not. Thus, mast cell–derived TNF and MIP-2 ultimately determine the pattern of infiltrating cells during T cell–mediated DTHRs.
PMCID: PMC2193186  PMID: 11085746
chemokines; inflammation; type 1 T cells; cytokines; autoimmune disease
17.  Mast cells are the main interleukin 17-positive cells in anticitrullinated protein antibody-positive and -negative rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis synovium 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R150.
Mast cells have been implicated to play a functional role in arthritis, especially in autoantibody-positive disease. Among the cytokines involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), IL-17 is an important inflammatory mediator. Recent data suggest that the synovial mast cell is a main producer of IL-17, although T cells have also been implicated as prominent IL-17 producers as well. We aimed to identify IL-17 expression by mast cells and T cells in synovium of arthritis patients.
Synovial samples of anticitrullinated protein antibody-positive (ACPA+) and ACPA-negative (ACPA-) RA and osteoarthritis (OA) patients were stained for IL-17 in combination with CD117 (mast cells), CD3 (T cells) and CD68 (macrophages). Concentrations of IL-17 in synovial fluid were determined by ELISA.
The number of IL-17+ cells in synovium was comparable in all groups. Although the vast majority of IL-17+ cells are mast cells, no difference in the percentage of IL-17+ mast cells was observed. Nonetheless, levels of IL-17 in synovial fluid were increased in ACPA+ RA patients compared to ACPA- RA and OA patients.
The synovial mast cell is the main IL-17+ cell in all three arthritis groups analyzed. These data are relevant for studies aimed at blocking IL-17 in the treatment of arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3308080  PMID: 21933391
18.  Current perspectives on the role of IL-17 in autoimmune disease 
Until recently, autoimmune diseases had been categorized as either Th1- or Th2-mediated diseases. However, the discovery of a novel subset of helper T cells producing interleukin (IL)-17, ie, Th17 cells, changed this paradigm. Currently, IL-17 and Th17 cells are implicated in many autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases. Such conclusions were initially drawn from observations in animal models of autoimmune diseases, and accumulating data from clinical research also support the involvement of IL-17 in human diseases as well. Reagents targeting Th17-related molecules have been under clinical investigation for some diseases but have not always been effective in controlling disease activity. Consistent with this, it has become evident that there are substantial differences in the development of Th17 cells and in the way they function in autoimmune diseases between humans and experimental animals. Thus, further investigation is needed before we can draw any conclusions about the importance of IL-17 and Th17 cells in human autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3218730  PMID: 22096355
IL-17; Th17; rheumatoid arthritis; multiple sclerosis; Crohn’s disease; psoriasis
19.  Lithium Controls Central Nervous System Autoimmunity through Modulation of IFN-γ Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52658.
Inhibitors of glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) are being explored as therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases. We previously demonstrated that the GSK inhibitor lithium is beneficial in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the mouse model of multiple sclerosis. In this study we report that lithium suppresses EAE induced by encephalitogenic interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-producing T helper (Th1) cells but not by interleukin (IL)-17-producing T helper (Th17) cells. The therapeutic activity of lithium required functional IFN-γ-signaling, but not the receptor for type I IFN (IFNAR). Inhibitor/s of GSK3 attenuated IFN-γ dependent activation of the transcription factor STAT1 in naïve T cells as well as in encephalitogenic T cells and Th1 cells. The inhibition of STAT1 activation was associated with reduced IFN-γ production and decreased expansion of encephalitogenic Th1 cells. Furthermore, lithium treatment induced Il27 expression within the spinal cords of mice with EAE. In contrast, such treatment of Ifngr−/− mice did not induce Il27 and was associated with lack of therapeutic response. Our study reveals a novel mechanism for the efficacy of GSK3 targeting in EAE, through the IFN-γ-STAT1 axis that is independent IFNAR-STAT1 axis. Overall our findings set the framework for the use of GSK3 inhibitors as therapeutic agents in autoimmune neuroinflammation.
PMCID: PMC3532311  PMID: 23285134
20.  Tuftsin Promotes an Anti-Inflammatory Switch and Attenuates Symptoms in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34933.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating autoimmune disease mediated by infiltration of T cells into the central nervous system after compromise of the blood-brain barrier. We have previously shown that administration of tuftsin, a macrophage/microglial activator, dramatically improves the clinical course of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a well-established animal model for MS. Tuftsin administration correlates with upregulation of the immunosuppressive Helper-2 Tcell (Th2) cytokine transcription factor GATA-3. We now show that tuftsin-mediated microglial activation results in shifting microglia to an anti-inflammatory phenotype. Moreover, the T cell phenotype is shifted towards immunoprotection after exposure to tuftsin-treated activated microglia; specifically, downregulation of pro-inflammatory Th1 responses is triggered in conjunction with upregulation of Th2-specific responses and expansion of immunosuppressive regulatory T cells (Tregs). Finally, tuftsin-shifted T cells, delivered into animals via adoptive transfer, reverse the pathology observed in mice with established EAE. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that tuftsin decreases the proinflammatory environment of EAE and may represent a therapeutic opportunity for treatment of MS.
PMCID: PMC3328491  PMID: 22529957
21.  IL-23 modulated myelin-specific T cells induce EAE via an IFNγ driven, IL-17 independent pathway 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2010;25(5):932-937.
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) mediated by myelin-reactive CD4+ T cells. An unresolved issue that has important clinical implications concerns the cytokines produced by myelin-reactive T cells that determine their pathogenicity. Initially, IL-12 polarized, IFNγ producing Th1 cells were thought to be essential for the development of EAE. More recently, IL-23 polarized, IL-17 producing Th17 cells have been highlighted as critical encephalitogenic effectors. There is growing evidence that parallel autoimmune pathways can result in common clinical and histopathological endpoints. In the current study, we describe a form of EAE induced by the transfer of IL-23 modulated CD4+ T cells into IL-17 receptor (IL-17R) deficient hosts. We found that IL-23 stimulates myelin-reactive T cells to produce both IFNγ and IL-17. Surprisingly, in this model the development of EAE is IFNγ dependent. Our findings illustrate a novel mechanism by which IL-23 promotes encephalitogenicity and they further expand the spectrum of autoreactive T cells capable of mediating inflammatory demyelinating disease of the CNS.
PMCID: PMC3064959  PMID: 20951792
experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; autoimmune disease; neuroinflammation; T helper cells; cytokines
22.  Dog mastocytoma cells produce transforming growth factor beta 1. 
Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF beta) promotes deposition of extracellular matrix and is associated with fibrotic conditions both in experimental animals and in humans. Although a role for mast cells has been suspected in the pathogenesis of fibrosis, no potent mediator capable of stimulating fibroblast growth or extracellular matrix deposition has been identified in mast cell supernatants. We report here the constitutive production of TGF beta 1 by four dog mastocytoma cell lines. TGF beta 1 was identified by characteristic biologic activity, blockade of biologic effect by specific neutralizing antibody, and by recognition of a band with the appropriate migration by western blot. TGF beta 1 mRNA, but not TGF beta 2 or TGF beta 3 mRNA, was also produced constitutively by all four cell lines. Quantitation by bioassay revealed baseline TGF beta secretion of approximately 1 ng/10(6) cells over 48 h. Stimulation of mastocytoma cells with phorbol ester increased the rate of release of TGF beta 1, most markedly in the first 30 min after stimulation, without increasing TGF beta 1 mRNA. Dog mastocytoma cells produced TGF beta 1 primarily in a latent form, inactive until treated with acid. Both pure TGF beta 1 and TGF beta-containing mastocytoma cell-conditioned media inhibited mitogenesis and proliferation in dog mastocytoma cell lines, suggesting that mast cell tumor lines would not grow preferentially based on their ability to produce TGF beta. These studies may make possible further investigation of the mechanism by which mast cells contribute to the induction of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC443060  PMID: 1634619
23.  IL-21 and TGF-β are required for differentiation of human TH17 cells 
Nature  2008;454(7202):350-352.
The recent discovery of CD4+ T cells characterized by secretion of interleukin (IL)-17 (TH17 cells) and the naturally occurring regulatory FOXP3+ CD4 T cell (nTreg) has had a major impact on our understanding of immune processes not readily explained by the TH1/TH2 paradigm. TH17 and nTreg cells have been implicated in the pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis1,2. Our recent data and the work of others demonstrated that transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and IL-6 are responsible for the differentiation of naive mouse T cells into TH17 cells, and it has been proposed that IL-23 may have a critical role in stabilization of the TH17 phenotype3-5. A second pathway has been discovered in which a combination of TGF-β and IL-21 is capable of inducing differentiation of mouse TH17 cells in the absence of IL-6 (refs 6-8). However, TGF-β and IL-6 are not capable of differentiating human TH17 cells2,9 and it has been suggested that TGF-β may in fact suppress the generation of human TH17 cells10. Instead, it has been recently shown that the cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-23 are capable of driving IL-17 secretion in short-term CD4+ T cell lines isolated from human peripheral blood11, although the factors required for differentiation of naive human CD4 to TH17 cells are still unknown. Here we confirm that whereas IL-1β and IL-6 induce IL-17A secretion from human central memory CD4+ T cells, TGF-β and IL-21 uniquely promote the differentiation of human naive CD4+ T cells into TH17 cells accompanied by expression of the transcription factor RORC2. These data will allow the investigation of this new population of TH17 cells in human inflammatory disease.
PMCID: PMC2760130  PMID: 18469800
24.  A crucial role for interleukin (IL)-1 in the induction of IL-17–producing T cells that mediate autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2006;203(7):1685-1691.
It was recently demonstrated that interleukin (IL)-23–driven IL-17–producing (ThIL-17) T cells mediate inflammatory pathology in certain autoimmune diseases. We show that the induction of antigen-specific ThIL-17 cells, but not T helper (Th)1 or Th2 cells, by immunization with antigens and adjuvants is abrogated in IL-1 receptor type I–deficient (IL-1RI−/−) mice. Furthermore, the incidence of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) was significantly lower in IL-1RI−/− compared with wild-type mice, and this correlated with a failure to induce autoantigen-specific ThIL-17 cells, whereas induction of Th1 and Th2 responses was not substantially different. However, EAE was induced in IL-1RI−/− mice by adoptive transfer of autoantigen-specific cells from wild-type mice with EAE. IL-23 alone did not induce IL-17 production by T cells from IL-1RI−/− mice, and IL-23–induced IL-17 production was substantially enhanced by IL-1α or IL-1β, even in the absence of T cell receptor stimulation. We demonstrate essential roles for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, nuclear factor κB, and novel protein kinase C isoforms in IL-1– and IL-23–mediated IL-17 production. Tumor necrosis factor α also synergized with IL-23 to enhance IL-17 production, and this was IL-1 dependent. Our findings demonstrate that IL-1 functions upstream of IL-17 to promote pathogenic ThIL-17 cells in EAE.
PMCID: PMC2118338  PMID: 16818675
25.  TGF-β-Mediated Sustained ERK1/2 Activity Promotes the Inhibition of Intracellular Growth of Mycobacterium avium in Epithelioid Cells Surrogates 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21465.
Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several diseases including infection with intracellular pathogens such as the Mycobacterium avium complex. Infection of macrophages with M. avium induces TGF-β production and neutralization of this cytokine has been associated with decreased intracellular bacterial growth. We have previously demonstrated that epithelioid cell surrogates (ECs) derived from primary murine peritoneal macrophages through a process of differentiation induced by IL-4 overlap several features of epithelioid cells found in granulomas. In contrast to undifferentiated macrophages, ECs produce larger amounts of TGF-β and inhibit the intracellular growth of M. avium. Here we asked whether the levels of TGF-β produced by ECs are sufficient to induce a self-sustaining autocrine TGF-β signaling controlling mycobacterial replication in infected-cells. We showed that while exogenous addition of increased concentration of TGF-β to infected-macrophages counteracted M. avium replication, pharmacological blockage of TGF-β receptor kinase activity with SB-431542 augmented bacterial load in infected-ECs. Moreover, the levels of TGF-β produced by ECs correlated with high and sustained levels of ERK1/2 activity. Inhibition of ERK1/2 activity with U0126 increased M. avium replication in infected-cells, suggesting that modulation of intracellular bacterial growth is dependent on the activation of ERK1/2. Interestingly, blockage of TGF-β receptor kinase activity with SB-431542 in infected-ECs inhibited ERK1/2 activity, enhanced intracellular M. avium burden and these effects were followed by a severe decrease in TGF-β production. In summary, our findings indicate that the amplitude of TGF-β signaling coordinates the strength and duration of ERK1/2 activity that is determinant for the control of intracellular mycobacterial growth.
PMCID: PMC3120888  PMID: 21731758

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