T follicular helper (Tfh) cells contribute to the establishment of humoral immunity by controlling the delivery of helper signals to activated B cells; however, Tfh development must be restrained, as aberrant accumulation of these cells is associated with positive selection of self-reactive germinal center B cells and autoimmunity in both humans and mice. Here, we show that TGF-β signaling in T cells prevented Tfh cell accumulation, self-reactive B cell activation, and autoantibody production. Using mice with either T cell–specific loss or constitutive activation of TGF-β signaling, we demonstrated that TGF-β signaling is required for the thymic maturation of CD44+CD122+Ly49+CD8+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), which induce Tfh apoptosis and thus regulate this cell population. Moreover, peripheral Tfh cells escaping TGF-β control were resistant to apoptosis, exhibited high levels of the antiapoptotic protein BCL2, and remained refractory to regulation by CD8+ Tregs. The unrestrained accumulation of Tfh cells in the absence of TGF-β was dependent on T cell receptor engagement and required B cells. Together, these data indicate that TGF-β signaling restrains Tfh cell accumulation and B cell–associated autoimmunity and thereby controls self-tolerance.
Mark J. McCarron, Julien C. Marie
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.