Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program




First Thesis Advisor

Ann Marshak-Rothstein, PhD


Pulmonary Fibrosis, Autoimmunity, Antinuclear Antibodies, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes


Dissertations, UMMS; Pulmonary Fibrosis; Autoimmunity; Antibodies, Antinuclear; CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes


Preclinical models of lupus indicate that T cell-B cell collaboration drives antinuclear antibody (ANA) production and sustains T cell activation. Autoreactive B lymphocytes are present in the normal repertoire but persist as ignorant or anergic cells. Mechanisms that normally limit T cell activation of autoreactive B cells remain incompletely resolved, but potentially include the absence of autoreactive effector T cell subsets and/or the presence of autoAgspecific regulatory T cells (Tregs). Several studies have addressed this issue by using experimental systems dependent on transgenic autoreactive B cells, but much less is known about the activation of autoreactive B cells present in a polyclonal repertoire. In the second chapter of this thesis, I have explored the role of effector T cells and Tregs using mice that express an inducible pseudoautoAg expressed on B cells and other antigen presenting cells (APCs). In this system, activated Th2 cells, but not naïve T cells, elicit the production of ANAs, but ANA production is severely limited by autoAg-specific Tregs. Bone marrow chimera experiments further demonstrated that this B cell activation is constrained by radioresistant autoantigen-expressing APCs (rAPC) present in the thymus as well as by non-hematopoietic stromal cells located in peripheral lymphoid tissue. Importantly, peripheral rAPC expression of autoAg induced the expansion of a highly effective subset of CD62L+CD69+ Tregs. The third chapter of this thesis focuses on the contribution of CD8+ T cells to fibrosis resulting from sterile lung injury. Type 2 effector production of IL-13 is v a demonstrated requirement in several models of fibrosis, and is routinely ascribed to CD4+ Th2 cells. However, we now demonstrate a major role for pulmonary CD8+ T cells, which mediate an exaggerated wound healing response and fibrosis through robust differentiation into IL-13-producing pro-fibrotic type 2 effectors (Tc2). Remarkably, differentiation of these Tc2 cells in the lung requires IL-21. We further show that the combination of IL-4 and IL-21 skews naïve CD8+ T cells to produce IL-21, which in turn acts in an autocrine manner to support robust IL-13 production. TGF-β negatively regulates production of IL-13 by suppressing CD8+ T cell responsiveness to IL-21. Our data illuminate a novel pathway involved in the onset and regulation of pulmonary fibrosis, and identify Tc2 cells as key mediators of fibrogenesis.



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