Many patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have lupus nephritis, one of the severe complications of SLE. We previously reported that CD8+CD103+ T regulatory cells induced ex vivo with transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) (iTregs) inhibited immune cells responses to ameliorate excessive autoimmune inflammation. However, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying the role of these CD8+ iTregs is still unclear. Here we identified that CD39, which is highly expressed on CD8+ iTregs, crucially contributes to the immunosuppressive role of the CD8+CD103+ iTregs. We showed that adoptive transfer of CD8+CD103+ iTregs significantly relieves the chronic graft-versus-host disease with lupus nephritis and CD39 inhibitor mostly abolished the functional activities of these CD8+ iTregs in vitro and in vivo. CD39+ cells sorted from CD8+CD103+ iTregs were more effective in treating lupus nephritis than CD39− partner cells in vivo. Furthermore, human CD8+ iTregs displayed increased CD103 and CD39 expressions, and CD39 was involved in the suppressive function of human CD8+ iTregs. Thus, our data implicated a crucial role of CD39 in CD8+CD103+ iTregs in treating lupus nephritis, and CD39 could be a new phenotypic biomarker for the identification of highly qualified CD8+ Tregs. This subpopulation may have therapeutic potential in patients with SLE nephritis and other autoimmune diseases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Drug Discovery