While T cells are important for the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis, little is known about how T cells function after infiltrating the kidney. The current paradigm suggests that kidney-infiltrating T cells (KITs) are activated effector cells contributing to tissue damage and ultimately organ failure. Herein, we demonstrate that the majority of CD4+ and CD8+ KITs in 3 murine lupus models are not effector cells, as hypothesized, but rather express multiple inhibitory receptors and are highly dysfunctional, with reduced cytokine production and proliferative capacity. In other systems, this hypofunctional profile is linked directly to metabolic and specifically mitochondrial dysfunction, which we also observed in KITs. The T cell phenotype was driven by the expression of an “exhausted” transcriptional signature. Our data thus reveal that the tissue parenchyma has the capability of suppressing T cell responses and limiting damage to self. These findings suggest avenues for the treatment of autoimmunity based on selectively exploiting the exhausted phenotype of tissue-infiltrating T cells.
Jeremy S. Tilstra, Lyndsay Avery, Ashley V. Menk, Rachael A. Gordon, Shuchi Smita, Lawrence P. Kane, Maria Chikina, Greg M. Delgoffe, Mark J. Shlomchik
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.