Thymic NF-?B-inducing kinase regulates CD4+ T cell-elicited liver injury and fibrosis in mice.
ABSTRACT: The liver is an immunologically-privileged organ. Breakdown of liver immune privilege has been reported in chronic liver disease; however, the role of adaptive immunity in liver injury is poorly defined. Nuclear factor-?B-inducing kinase (NIK) is known to regulate immune tissue development, but its role in maintaining liver homeostasis remains unknown. This study aimed to assess the role of NIK, particularly thymic NIK, in regulating liver adaptive immunity.NIK was deleted systemically or conditionally using the Cre/loxp system. Cluster of differentiation [CD]4+ or CD8+ T cells were depleted using anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 antibody. Donor bone marrows or thymi were transferred into recipient mice. Immune cells were assessed by immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry.Global, but not liver-specific or hematopoietic lineage cell-specific, deletion of NIK induced fatal liver injury, inflammation, and fibrosis. Likewise, adoptive transfer of NIK-null, but not wild-type, thymi into immune-deficient mice induced liver inflammation, injury, and fibrosis in recipients. Liver inflammation was characterized by a massive expansion of T cells, particularly the CD4+ T cell subpopulation. Depletion of CD4+, but not CD8+, T cells fully protected against liver injury, inflammation, and fibrosis in NIK-null mice. NIK deficiency also resulted in inflammation in the lung, kidney, and pancreas, but to a lesser degree relative to the liver.Thymic NIK suppresses development of autoreactive T cells against liver antigens, and NIK deficiency in the thymus results in CD4+ T cell-orchestrated autoimmune hepatitis and liver fibrosis. Thus, thymic NIK is essential for the maintenance of liver immune privilege and liver homeostasis.We found that global or thymus-specific ablation of the NIK gene results in fatal autoimmune liver disease in mice. NIK-deficient mice develop liver inflammation, injury, and fibrosis. Our findings indicate that thymic NIK is essential for the maintenance of liver integrity and homeostasis.
Project description:Damaged, necrotic, or apoptotic hepatocytes release damage-associated molecular patterns that initiate sterile inflammation, and liver inflammation drives liver injury and fibrosis. Here we identified hepatic nuclear factor kappa B (NF-?B)-inducing kinase (NIK), a Ser/Thr kinase, as a novel trigger of fatal liver inflammation. NIK is activated by a broad spectrum of stimuli. It was up-regulated in injured livers in both mice and humans. In primary mouse hepatocytes, NIK overexpression stimulated, independently of cell injury and death, release of numerous chemokines and cytokines that activated bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs). BMDMs in turn secreted proapoptotic molecules that stimulated hepatocyte apoptosis. Hepatocyte-specific expression of the NIK transgene triggered massive liver inflammation, oxidative stress, hepatocyte apoptosis, and liver fibrosis, leading to weight loss, hypoglycemia, and death. Depletion of Kupffer cells/macrophages reversed NIK-induced liver destruction and death.the hepatocyte NIK-liver immune cell axis promotes liver inflammation, injury, and fibrosis, thus driving liver disease progression.
Project description:Aberrant T cell development is a pivotal risk factor for autoimmune disease; however, the underlying molecular mechanism of T cell overactivation is poorly understood. Here, we identified NF-?B-inducing kinase (NIK) and IkB kinase ? (IKK?) in thymic epithelial cells (TECs) as essential regulators of T cell development. Mouse TEC-specific ablation of either NIK or IKK? resulted in severe T cell-mediated inflammation, injury, and fibrosis in the liver and lung, leading to premature death within 18 d of age. NIK or IKK? deficiency abrogated medullary TEC development, and led to breakdown of central tolerance, production of autoreactive T cells, and fatal autoimmune destruction in the liver and lung. TEC-specific ablation of NIK or IKK? also impaired thymic T cell development from the double-negative through the double-positive stages and inhibited peripheral B cell development. These results unravel a hitherto unrecognized essential role of TEC-intrinsic NIK and IKK? pathways in autoimmunity and T cell-instigated chronic liver and lung diseases.
Project description:Drug-induced hepatotoxicity limits development of new effective medications. Drugs and numerous endogenous/exogenous agents are metabolized/detoxified by hepatocytes, during which reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated as a by-product. ROS has broad adverse effects on liver function and integrity, including damaging hepatocyte proteins, lipids, and DNA and promoting liver inflammation and fibrosis. ROS in concert with iron overload drives ferroptosis. Hepatic nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)-inducing kinase (NIK) is aberrantly activated in a broad spectrum of liver disease. NIK phosphorylates and activates inhibitor of NF-κB kinase subunit alpha (IKKα), and the hepatic NIK/IKKα cascade suppresses liver regeneration. However, the NIK/IKKα pathway has not been explored in drug-induced liver injury. Here, we identify hepatic NIK as a previously unrecognized mediator for acetaminophen (APAP)-induced acute liver failure. APAP treatment increased both NIK transcription and NIK protein stability in primary hepatocytes as well as in liver in mice. Hepatocyte-specific overexpression of NIK augmented APAP-induced liver oxidative stress in mice and increased hepatocyte death and mortality in a ROS-dependent manner. Conversely, hepatocyte-specific ablation of NIK or IKKα mitigated APAP-elicited hepatotoxicity and mortality. NIK increased lipid peroxidation and cell death in APAP-stimulated primary hepatocytes. Pretreatment with antioxidants or ferroptosis inhibitors blocked NIK/APAP-induced hepatocyte death. Conclusion: We unravel a previously unrecognized NIK/IKKα/ROS/ferroptosis axis engaged in liver disease progression.
Project description:Immune cell-mediated tissue injury is a common feature of different inflammatory diseases, yet the pathogenetic mechanisms and cell types involved vary significantly. Hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) represents a group of inflammatory diseases that is characterized by increased numbers of pathogenic eosinophilic granulocytes in the peripheral blood and diverse organs. On the basis of clinical and laboratory findings, various forms of HES have been defined, yet the molecular mechanism and potential signaling pathways that drive eosinophil expansion remain largely unknown. In this study, we show that mice deficient of the serine/threonine-specific protein kinase NF-?B-inducing kinase (NIK) develop a HES-like disease, reflected by progressive blood and tissue eosinophilia, tissue injury, and premature death at around 25-30 wk of age. Similar to the lymphocytic form of HES, CD4(+) T cells from NIK-deficient mice express increased levels of Th2-associated cytokines, and eosinophilia and survival of NIK-deficient mice could be prevented completely by genetic ablation of CD4(+) T cells. Experiments based on bone marrow chimeric mice, however, demonstrated that inflammation in NIK-deficient mice depended on radiation-resistant tissues, implicating that NIK-deficient immune cells mediate inflammation in a nonautonomous manner. Surprisingly, disease development was independent of NIK's known function as an I?B kinase ? (IKK?) kinase, because mice carrying a mutation in the activation loop of IKK?, which is phosphorylated by NIK, did not develop inflammatory disease. Our data show that NIK activity in nonhematopoietic cells controls Th2 cell development and prevents eosinophil-driven inflammatory disease, most likely using a signaling pathway that operates independent of the known NIK substrate IKK?.
Project description:Inefficient thymic negative selection of self-specific T cells is associated with several autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes. The factors that influence the efficacy of thymic negative selection, as well as the kinetics of thymic output of autoreactive T cells remain ill-defined. We investigated thymic production of ? cell-specific T cells using a thymus-transplantation model. Thymi from different aged NOD mice, representing distinct stages of type 1 diabetes, were implanted into NOD.scid recipients, and the diabetogenicity of the resulting T cell pool was examined. Strikingly, the development of diabetes-inducing ? cell-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells was regulated in an age-dependent manner. NOD.scid recipients of newborn NOD thymi developed diabetes. However, recipients of thymi from 7- and 10-d-old NOD donor mice remained diabetes-free and exhibited a progressive decline in islet infiltration and ? cell-specific CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. A similar temporal decrease in autoimmune infiltration was detected in some, but not all, tissues of recipient mice implanted with thymi from NOD mice lacking expression of the autoimmune regulator transcription factor, which develop multiorgan T cell-mediated autoimmunity. In contrast, recipients of 10 d or older thymi lacked diabetogenic T cells but developed severe colitis marked by increased effector T cells reactive to intestinal microbiota. These results demonstrate that thymic development of autoreactive T cells is limited to a narrow time window and occurs in a reciprocal manner compared with colonic microbiota-responsive T cells in NOD mice.
Project description:NF-?B inducing kinase (NIK, MAP3K14) is a key signaling molecule in non-canonical NF-?B activation, and NIK deficient mice have been instrumental in deciphering the immunologic role of this pathway. Global ablation of NIK prevents lymph node development, impairs thymic stromal development, and drastically reduces B cells. Despite altered thymic selection, T cell numbers are near normal in NIK deficient mice. The exception is CD4(+) regulatory T cells (Tregs), which are reduced in the thymus and periphery. Defects in thymic stroma are known to contribute to impaired Treg generation, but whether NIK also plays a cell intrinsic role in Tregs is unknown. Here, we compared intact mice with single and mixed BM chimeric mice to assess the intrinsic role of NIK in Treg generation and maintenance. We found that while NIK expression in stromal cells suffices for normal thymic Treg development, NIK is required cell-intrinsically to maintain peripheral Tregs. In addition, we unexpectedly discovered a cell-intrinsic role for NIK in memory phenotype conventional T cells that is masked in intact mice, but revealed in BM chimeras. These results demonstrate a novel role for NIK in peripheral regulatory and memory phenotype T cell homeostasis.
Project description:The suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) is a major regulator of immune responses and inflammation as it negatively regulates cytokine signaling. Here, the role of SOCS3 in thymic T cell formation was studied in <i>Socs3</i> <sup><i>fl</i>/<i>fl</i></sup> <i>Actin-creER</i> mice (Δ<i>socs3)</i> with a tamoxifen inducible and ubiquitous <i>Socs3</i> deficiency. Δ<i>socs3</i> thymi showed a 90% loss of cellularity and altered cortico-medullary organization. Thymocyte differentiation and proliferation was impaired at the early double negative (CD4-CD8-) cell stage and apoptosis was increased during the double positive (CD4+CD8+) cell stage, resulting in the reduction of recent thymic emigrants in peripheral organs. Using bone marrow chimeras, transplanting thymic organoids and using mice deficient of SOCS3 in thymocytes we found that expression in thymic stromal cells rather than in thymocytes was critical for T cell development. We found that SOCS3 in thymic epithelial cells (TECs) binds to the E3 ubiquitin ligase TRIM 21 and that <i>Trim21</i> <sup>-/-</sup> mice showed increased thymic cellularity. Δ<i>socs3</i> TECs showed alterations in the expression of genes involved in positive and negative selection and lympho-stromal interactions. SOCS3-dependent signal inhibition of the common gp130 subunit of the IL-6 receptor family was redundant for T cell formation. Together, SOCS3 expression in thymic stroma cells is critical for T cell development and for maintenance of thymus architecture.
Project description:Chronic liver injury promotes hepatic inflammation, representing a prerequisite for organ fibrosis. We hypothesized a contribution of chemokine receptor CCR6 and its ligand, CCL20, which may regulate migration of T-helper (Th)17, regulatory, and gamma-delta (??) T cells. CCR6 and CCL20 expression was intrahepatically up-regulated in patients with chronic liver diseases (n = 50), compared to control liver (n = 5). Immunohistochemistry revealed the periportal accumulation of CCR6(+) mononuclear cells and CCL20 induction by hepatic parenchymal cells in liver disease patients. Similarly, in murine livers, CCR6 was expressed by macrophages, CD4 and ?? T-cells, and up-regulated in fibrosis, whereas primary hepatocytes induced CCL20 upon experimental injury. In two murine models of chronic liver injury (CCl4 and methionine-choline-deficient diet), Ccr6(-/-) mice developed more severe fibrosis with strongly enhanced hepatic immune cell infiltration, compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Although CCR6 did not affect hepatic Th-cell subtype composition, CCR6 was explicitly required by the subset of interleukin (IL)-17- and IL-22-expressing ?? T cells for accumulation in injured liver. The adoptive transfer of WT ??, but not CD4 T cells, into Ccr6(-/-) mice reduced hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in chronic injury to WT level. The anti-inflammatory function of hepatic ?? T cells was independent of IL-17, as evidenced by transfer of Il-17(-/-) cells. Instead, hepatic ?? T cells colocalized with hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in vivo and promoted apoptosis of primary murine HSCs in a cell-cell contact-dependent manner, involving Fas-ligand (CD95L). Consistent with ?? T-cell-induced HSC apoptosis, activated myofibroblasts were more frequent in fibrotic livers of Ccr6(-/-) than in WT mice.?? T cells are recruited to the liver by CCR6 upon chronic injury and protect the liver from excessive inflammation and fibrosis by inhibiting HSCs.
Project description:Thymic involution is associated with age-related changes of the immune system. Utilizing our innovative technique of transplantation of a thymus as an isolated vascularized graft in MHC-inbred miniature swine, we have previously demonstrated that aged thymi are rejuvenated after transplantation into juvenile swine. Here we have studied the role of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and forkhead-box protein-N1 (FOXN1) as well as bone marrow (BM) in thymic rejuvenation and involution. We examined thymic rejuvenation and involution by means of histology and flow cytometry. Thymic function was assessed by the ability to induce tolerance of allogeneic kidneys. Aged thymi were rejuvenated in a juvenile environment, and successfully induced organ tolerance, while juvenile thymi in aged recipients involuted and had a limited ability to induce tolerance. However, juvenile BM inhibited the involution process of juvenile thymi in aged recipients. An elevated expression of both FOXN1 and IGF1 receptors (IGF-1R) was observed in juvenile thymi and rejuvenated thymi. Juvenile BM plays a role in promoting the local thymic milieu as indicated by its ability to inhibit thymic involution in aged animals. The expression of FOXN1 and IGF-1R was noted to increase under conditions that stimulated rejuvenation, suggesting that these factors are involved in thymic recovery.
Project description:Polymorphisms impacting thymic function may decrease peripheral tolerance and hasten autoimmune disease. The NF-?B transcription factor subunit, RelB, is essential for the development and differentiation of medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs): RelB-deficient mice have reduced thymic cellularity and markedly fewer mTECs, lacking AIRE. The precise mechanism of this mTEC reduction in the absence of RelB is unclear. To address this, we studied mTECs and dendritic cells (DCs), which critically regulate negative selection, and thymic regulatory T-cells (tTreg) in RelB-/- mice, which have spontaneous multiorgan autoimmune disease. RelB-/- thymi were organized, with medullary structures containing AIRE- mTECs, DCs, and CD4+ thymocytes, but fewer tTreg. Granulocytes infiltrated the RelB-/- thymic cortex, capsule, and medulla, producing inflammatory thymic medullary atrophy, which could be treated by granulocyte depletion or RelB+ DC immunotherapy, with concomitant recovery of mTEC and tTreg numbers. These data indicate that central tolerance defects may be accelerated by autoimmune thymic inflammation where impaired RelB signaling impairs the medullary niche, and may be reversible by therapies enhancing peripheral Treg or suppressing inflammation.