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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

IL-2 protects lupus-prone mice from multiple end-organ damage by limiting CD4-CD8- IL-17-producing T cells.


PMID 25063876

Abstract

IL-2, a cytokine with pleiotropic effects, is critical for immune cell activation and peripheral tolerance. Although the therapeutic potential of IL-2 has been previously suggested in autoimmune diseases, the mechanisms whereby IL-2 mitigates autoimmunity and prevents organ damage remain unclear. Using an inducible recombinant adeno-associated virus vector, we investigated the effect of low systemic levels of IL-2 in lupus-prone MRL/Fas(lpr/lpr) (MRL/lpr) mice. Treatment of mice after the onset of disease with IL-2-recombinant adeno-associated virus resulted in reduced mononuclear cell infiltration and pathology of various tissues, including skin, lungs, and kidneys. In parallel, we noted a significant decrease of IL-17-producing CD3(+)CD4(-)CD8(-) double-negative T cells and an increase in CD4(+)CD25(+)Foxp3(+) immunoregulatory T cells (Treg) in the periphery. We also show that IL-2 can drive double-negative (DN) T cell death through an indirect mechanism. Notably, targeted delivery of IL-2 to CD122(+) cytotoxic lymphocytes effectively reduced the number of DN T cells and lymphadenopathy, whereas selective expansion of Treg by IL-2 had no effect on DN T cells. Collectively, our data suggest that administration of IL-2 to lupus-prone mice protects against end-organ damage and suppresses inflammation by dually limiting IL-17-producing DN T cells and expanding Treg.