CD4+ T cell interactions with B cells play a critical role in the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus and chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). Extrafollicular CD44hiCD62LloPSGL1loCD4+ T cells (PSGL1loCD4+ T cells) are associated with the pathogenesis of lupus and cGVHD, but their causal role has not been established. With murine and humanized MHC–/–HLA-A2+DR4+ murine models of cGVHD, we showed that murine and human PSGL1loCD4+ T cells from GVHD target tissues have features of B cell helpers with upregulated expression of programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1) and inducible T cell costimulator (ICOS) and production of IL-21. They reside in nonlymphoid tissues without circulating in the blood and have features of tissue-resident memory T cells with upregulated expression of CD69. Murine PSGL1loCD4+ T cells from GVHD target tissues augmented B cell differentiation into plasma cells and production of autoantibodies via their PD1 interaction with PD-L2 on B cells. Human PSGL1loCD4+ T cells were apposed with memory B cells in the liver tissues of humanized mice and cGVHD patients. Human PSGL1loCD4+ T cells from humanized GVHD target tissues also augmented autologous memory B cell differentiation into plasma cells and antibody production in a PD1/PD-L2–dependent manner. Further preclinical studies targeting tissue-resident T cells to treat antibody-mediated features of autoimmune diseases are warranted.
Xiaohui Kong, Deye Zeng, Xiwei Wu, Bixin Wang, Shijie Yang, Qingxiao Song, Yongping Zhu, Martha Salas, Hanjun Qin, Ubaydah Nasri, Karen M. Haas, Arthur D. Riggs, Ryotaro Nakamura, Paul J. Martin, Aimin Huang, Defu Zeng