Autoreactive CD4+ T cells to β2-glycoprotein I (β2GPI) that promote antiphospholipid antibody production were recently identified in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). To further examine antigen recognition profiles and T-cell helper activity in β2GPI-reactive T cells, 14 CD4+ T-cell clones specific to β2GPI were generated from 3 patients with APS by repeated stimulation of peripheral blood T cells with recombinant β2GPI. At least 4 distinct T-cell epitopes were identified, but the majority of the β2GPI-specific T-cell clones responded to a peptide encompassing amino acid residues 276 to 290 of β2GPI (KVSFFCKNKEKKCSY; single-letter amino acid codes) that contains the major phospholipid-binding site in the context of the DRB4*0103 allele. Ten of 12 β2GPI-specific T-cell clones were able to stimulate autologous peripheral blood B cells to promote anti-β2GPI antibody production in the presence of recombinant β2GPI. T-cell helper activity was exclusively found in T-cell clones capable of producing interleukin 6 (IL-6). In vitro anti-β2GPI antibody production induced by T-cell clones was inhibited by anti-IL-6 or anti-CD40 ligand monoclonal antibody. In addition, exogenous IL-6 augmented anti-β2GPI antibody production in cultures of the T-cell clone lacking IL-6 expression. These results indicate that β2GPI-specific CD4+ T cells in patients with APS preferentially recognize the antigenic peptide containing the major phospholipid-binding site and have the capacity to stimulate B cells to produce antiβ2GPI antibodies through IL-6 expression and CD40-CD40 ligand engagement. These findings are potentially useful for clarifying the pathogenesis of APS and for developing therapeutic strategies that suppress pathogenic antiphospholipid antibody production in these patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology