Cardiac antigen–specific CD8+ T cells are involved in the autoimmune component of human myocarditis. Here, we studied the differentiation and migration of pathogenic CD8+ T cell effector cells in a new mouse model of autoimmune myocarditis. A transgenic mouse line was derived that expresses cardiac myocyte restricted membrane-bound ovalbumin (CMy-mOva). The endogenous adaptive immune system of CMy-mOva mice displays tolerance to ovalbumin. Adoptive transfer of naive CD8+ T cells from the ovalbumin-specific T cell receptor–transgenic (TCR-transgenic) OT-I strain induces myocarditis in CMy-mOva mice only after subsequent inoculation with ovalbumin-expressing vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-Ova). OT-I effector T cells derived in vitro in the presence or absence of IL-12 were adoptively transferred into CMy-mOva mice, and the consequences were compared. Although IL-12 was not required for the generation of cytolytic and IFN-γ–producing effector T cells, only effectors primed in the presence of IL-12 infiltrated CMy-mOva hearts in significant numbers, causing lethal myocarditis. Furthermore, analysis of OT-I effectors collected from a mediastinal draining lymph node indicated that only effectors primed in vitro in the presence of IL-12 proliferated in vivo. These data demonstrate the importance of IL-12 in the differentiation of pathogenic CD8+ T cells that can cause myocarditis.
Nir Grabie, Michael W. Delfs, Jason R. Westrich, Victoria A. Love, George Stavrakis, Ferhaan Ahmad, Christine E. Seidman, Jonathan G. Seidman, Andrew H. Lichtman
Activation of naive OT-I T cells in CMy-mOva mice by VSV-Ova inoculation