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Therapeutic Effect of IL-38 on Experimental Autoimmune Uveitis: Reprogrammed Immune Cell Landscape and Reduced Th17 Cell Pathogenicity

Li, H;Zhu, L;Wang, R;Xie, L;Chen, Y;Duan, R;Liu, X;Huang, Z;Chen, B;Li, Z;Wang, X;Su, W;

The purpose of this study was to elucidate the effects of interleukin (IL)-38 on experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU) and its underlying mechanisms.Mice with EAU were treated with IL-38, and the retinas and cervical draining lymph nodes (CDLNs) were analyzed by flow cytometry. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) was conducted to analyze the immune cell profiles of CDLNs from normal, EAU, and IL-38-treated mice.Administration of IL-38 attenuated EAU symptoms and reduced the proportion of T helper 17 (Th17) and T helper 1 (Th1) cells in the retinas and CDLNs. In scRNA-seq analysis, IL-38 downregulated the IL-17 signaling pathway and reduced the expression of Th17 cell pathogenicity-related genes (Csf2 and Il23r), findings which were also confirmed by flow cytometry. In vitro, IL-38 reduced the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) stimulation function of IL-23 and inhibited IL-23R expression in Th17 cells. Moreover, when co-cultured with Th17 cells, IL-38 prevented IL-23 production in antigen-presenting cells (APCs).Our data demonstrate the therapeutic effect of IL-38 on EAU, and suggest that the effect of IL-38 may be caused by dampening of the GM-CSF/IL-23R/IL-23 feedback loop between Th17 cells and APCs.