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BAFF Promotes Th17 Cells and Aggravates Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023629
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immune Cells
  • B Cells
  • T Cells
  • Autoimmunity
  • Immune Response
  • Medicine
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Rheumatology
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Background BAFF, in addition to promoting B cell survival and differentiation, may affect T cells. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of BAFF on Th17 cell generation and its ramifications for the Th17 cell-driven disease, EAE. Methodology/Principal Findings Th17 cells were increased in BAFF-Tg B6 (B6.BTg) mice and decreased in B6.Baff−/− mice. Th17 cells in B6.Baff−/− mice bearing a BAFF Tg (B6.Baff−/−.BTg mice) were identical to those in B6.BTg mice, indicating that membrane BAFF is dispensable for Th17 cell generation as long as soluble BAFF is plentiful. In T + non-T cell criss-cross co-cultures, Th17 cell generation was greatest in cultures containing B6.BTg T cells and lowest in cultures containing B6.Baff−/− T cells, regardless of the source of non-T cells. In cultures containing only T cells, Th17 cell generation followed an identical pattern. CD4+ cell expression of CD126 (IL-6R α chain) was increased in B6.BTg mice and decreased in B6.Baff−/− mice, and activation of STAT3 following stimulation with IL-6 + TGF-β was also greatest in B6.BTg cells and lowest in B6.Baff−/− cells. EAE was clinically and pathologically most severe in B6.BTg mice and least severe in B6.Baff−/− mice and correlated with MOG35–55 peptide-induced Th17 cell responses. Conclusions/Significance Collectively, these findings document a contribution of BAFF to pathogenic Th17 cell responses and suggest that BAFF antagonism may be efficacious in Th17 cell-driven diseases.

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