Coinhibitory receptors play an important role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), by limiting T cell activation. B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) is an inhibitory receptor, similar to cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed death 1 (PD1), that negatively regulates the immune response. The role of BTLA in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases in humans and, more specifically, in SLE is largely unknown. We investigated BTLA expression on various T cell subsets, and we did not observe significant variations of BTLA expression between lupus patients and healthy controls. However, the enhancement of BTLA expression after activation was significantly lower in SLE patients compared with that in healthy controls. Furthermore, we found an impaired capacity of BTLA to inhibit T cell activation in SLE due to a poor BTLA recruitment to the immunological synapse following T cell stimulation. Finally, we demonstrated that defective BTLA function can be corrected by restoring intracellular trafficking and by normalizing the lipid metabolism in lupus CD4+ T cells. Collectively, our results evidence that the BTLA signaling pathway is altered in SLE T cells and highlight the potential of targeting this pathway for the development of new therapeutic strategies in lupus.
Matthieu Sawaf, Jean-Daniel Fauny, Renaud Felten, Flora Sagez, Jacques-Eric Gottenberg, Hélène Dumortier, Fanny Monneaux