Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

C4 Deficiency is a predisposing factor for Streptococcus pneumoniae-induced autoantibody production.

PMID 25339671


Reductions in C4 levels may predispose individuals to infection with encapsulated bacteria as well as autoimmunity. In this study, we examined the role C4 has in protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae-induced autoimmunity. Mild respiratory infection with serotype 19F pneumococci selectively induced systemic anti-dsDNA IgA production in naive C4(-/-) mice, but not in C3(-/-) or wild-type mice. Systemic challenge with virulent serotype 3 pneumococci also induced anti-dsDNA IgA production in immune C4(-/-) mice. Remarkably, pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPS) vaccination alone induced C4(-/-) mice to produce increased anti-dsDNA IgA levels that were maintained in some mice for months. These effects were most pronounced in female C4(-/-) mice. Importantly, immunization-induced increases in anti-dsDNA IgA levels were strongly associated with increased IgA deposition in kidneys. Cross-reactivity between pneumococcal Ags and dsDNA played a partial role in the induction of anti-dsDNA IgA, but a major role for PPS-associated TLR2 agonists was also revealed. Administration of the TLR2/4 antagonist, OxPAPC, at the time of PPS immunization completely blocked the production of anti-dsDNA IgA in C4(-/-) mice without suppressing PPS-specific Ab production. The TLR2 agonist, Pam3CSK4, similarly induced anti-dsDNA IgA production in C4(-/-) mice, which OxPAPC also prevented. LPS, a TLR4 agonist, had no effect. Pam3CSK4, but not LPS, also induced dsDNA-specific IgA production by C4(-/-) splenic IgA(+) B cells in vitro, indicating that TLR2 agonists can stimulate autoantibody production via B cell-intrinsic mechanisms. Collectively, our results show an important role for C4 in suppressing autoantibody production elicited by cross-reactive Ags and TLR2 agonists associated with S. pneumoniae.