Partial tolerance of autoreactive B and T cells to erythrocyte-specific self-antigens in mice

Krystalyn E. Hudson, Jeanne E. Hendrickson, Chantel M. Cadwell, Neal N. Iwakoshi, James C. Zimring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Breakdown of humoral tolerance to RBC antigens may lead to autoimmune hemolytic anemia, a severe and sometimes fatal disease. The underlying mechanisms behind the breakdown of humoral tolerance to RBC antigens are poorly understood. Design and Methods In order to study the pathogenesis of autoimmune hemolytic anemia, we developed a murine model with RBC-specific expression of a model antigen carrying epitopes from hen egg lysozyme and ovalbumin. Results Humoral tolerance was observed; this was not broken even by strong immunogenic stimulation (lysozyme or ovalbumin with adjuvant). Autoreactive CD4+ T cells were detected by tetramer enrichment assays, but failed to activate or expand despite repeat stimulation, indicating a non-responsive population rather than deletion. Adoptive transfer of autoreactive CD4+ T cells (OT-II mice) led to autoantibody (anti-lysozyme) production by B cells in multiple anatomic compartments, including the bone marrow. Conclusions These data demonstrate that B cells autoreactive to RBC antigens survive in healthy mice with normal immune systems. Furthermore, autoreactive B cells are not centrally tolerized and are receptive to T-cell help. As the autoreactive T cells are present but non-responsive, these data indicate that factors that reverse T-cell non-responsiveness may be central to the pathogenesis of autoimmune hemolytic anemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1836-1844
Number of pages9
JournalHaematologica
Volume97
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • B cells
  • Erythrocyte-specific
  • Self-antigen
  • T cells
  • Tolerance

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