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Pathogenic function of bystander-activated memory-like CD4+ T cells in autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Lee, HG;Lee, JU;Kim, DH;Lim, S;Kang, I;Choi, JM;

T cells generate antigen-specific immune responses to their cognate antigen as a hallmark of adaptive immunity. Despite the importance of antigen-specific T cells, here we show that antigen non-related, bystander memory-like CD4+ T cells also significantly contribute to autoimmune pathogenesis. Transcriptome analysis demonstrates that interleukin (IL)-1- and IL-23-prime T cells that express pathogenic T17 signature genes such as RORt, CCR6, and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Importantly, when co-transferred with myelin-specific 2D2 TCR-transgenic naive T cells, unrelated OT-II TCR-transgenic memory-like TH17 cells infiltrate the spinal cord and produce IL-17A, interferon (IFN)-, and GM-CSF, increasing the susceptibility of the recipients to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in an IL-1 receptor-dependent manner. In humans, IL-1R1high memory CD4+ T cells are major producers of IL-17A and IFN- in response to IL-1 and IL-23. Collectively, our findings reveal the innate-like pathogenic function of antigen non-related memory CD4+ T cells, which contributes to the development of autoimmune diseases.