Clinical and experimental immunology

Interleukin-2 treatment reverses effects of cAMP-responsive element modulator α-over-expressing T cells in autoimmune-prone mice.

PMID 25817470


Systemic autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), are often characterized by a failure of self-tolerance and result in an uncontrolled activation of B cells and effector T cells. Interleukin (IL)-2 critically maintains homeostasis of regulatory T cells (T(reg)) and effector T cells in the periphery. Previously, we identified the cAMP-responsive element modulator α (CREMα) as a major factor responsible for decreased IL-2 production in T cells from SLE patients. Additionally, using a transgenic mouse that specifically over-expresses CREMα in T cells (CD2CREMαtg), we provided in-vivo evidence that CREMα indeed suppresses IL-2 production. To analyse the effects of CREMα in an autoimmune prone mouse model we introduced a Fas mutation in the CD2CREMαtg mice (FVB/Fas(-/-) CD2CREMαtg). Overexpression of CREMα strongly accelerated the lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly in the FVB/Fas(-/-) mice. This was accompanied by a massive expansion of double-negative (DN) T cells, enhanced numbers of interferon (IFN)-γ-producing T cells and reduced percentages of T(regs). Treatment of FVB/Fas(-/-) CD2CREMαtg mice with IL-2 restored the percentage of T(regs) and reversed increased IFN-γ production, but did not affect the number of DNTs. Our data indicate that CREMα contributes to the failure of tolerance in SLE by favouring effector T cells and decreasing regulatory T cells, partially mediated by repression of IL-2 in vivo.