Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a metal hypersensitivity/autoimmune disease in which damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) promote a break in T cell tolerance and expansion of Be2+/self-peptide–reactive CD4+ T cells. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of cell death induced by beryllium particles in alveolar macrophages (AMs) and its impact on DAMP release. We found that phagocytosis of Be led to AM cell death independent of caspase, receptor-interacting protein kinases 1 and 3, or ROS activity. Before cell death, Be-exposed AMs secreted TNF-α that boosted intracellular stores of IL-1α followed by caspase-8–dependent fragmentation of DNA. IL-1α and nucleosomal DNA were subsequently released from AMs upon loss of plasma membrane integrity. In contrast, necrotic AMs released only unfragmented DNA and necroptotic AMs released only IL-1α. In mice exposed to Be, TNF-α promoted release of DAMPs and was required for the mobilization of immunogenic DCs, the expansion of Be-reactive CD4+ T cells, and pulmonary inflammation in a mouse model of CBD. Thus, early autocrine effects of particle-induced TNF-α on AMs led to a break in peripheral tolerance. This potentially novel mechanism may underlie the known relationship between fine particle inhalation, TNF-α, and loss of peripheral tolerance in T cell–mediated autoimmune disease and hypersensitivities.
Morgan K. Collins, Abigail M. Shotland, Morgan F. Wade, Shaikh M. Atif, Denay K. Richards, Manolo Torres-Llompart, Douglas G. Mack, Allison K. Martin, Andrew P. Fontenot, Amy S. McKee