Follicular Th (Tfh) cells are key CD4+ Th cells involved in regulating B cell differentiation in the germinal center. Mice with conditional KO (CKO) of B lymphocyte-induced maturation protein-1 (BLIMP-1) expression in CD11chi DCs (Prdm1 CKO) spontaneously develop a lupus-like disease. We found an increase in the number of Tfh cells in secondary lymphoid organs in lupus-prone Prdm1-CKO mice. B cells stimulated with Tfh cells become Ab-secreting cells (ASCs); there was an increase in ASC differentiation mediated by Tfh cells from Prdm1-CKO mice compared with Tfh cells from control mice. This was mainly due to the increased expression of molecules within the IL-23/IL-17 pathway in Tfh cells from Prdm1-CKO mice. There was an increased frequency of IL-17A+ Tfh cells in Prdm1-CKO mice. These Tfh cells secrete IL-17A and an increased amount of IL-21. Furthermore, neutralizing IL-17A and IL-21 reduced ASC differentiation induced by Tfh cells. Lastly, we found the expression of IL-1β and IL-6 was increased in BLIMP-1–deficient DCs, which are key for Th17 induction. Altogether, the lack of BLIMP-1 expression in DCs induces not only an increased number of Tfh cells, but also functionally distinct Tfh cells that lead to increased ASC differentiation.
Vera Kim, Kyungwoo Lee, Hong Tian, Su Hwa Jang, Betty Diamond, Sun Jung Kim