CXCR5 is critically involved in progression of lupus through regulation of B cell and double-negative T cell trafficking

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The recruitment of immune cells to sites of tissue inflammation is orchestrated by chemokine/chemokine receptor networks. Among these, the CXCL13/CXCR5 axis is thought to be involved critically in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis pathogenesis. Beyond B cell abnormalities, another hallmark of SLE disease is the occurrence of aberrant T cell responses. In particular, double-negative (DN) T cells are expanded in the peripheral blood of patients with SLE and in lupus-prone mice. DN T cells induce immunoglobulin production, secrete proinflammatory cytokines and infiltrate inflamed tissue, including kidneys. We aimed to investigate how CXCR5 deficiency changes immune cell trafficking in murine lupus. We therefore crossed CXCR5–/– mice with B6/lpr mice, a well-established murine lupus model. B cell numbers and B cellular immune responses were diminished in CXCR5-deficient B6/lpr mice. In addition, we observed reduced accumulation of DN T cells in spleen and lymph nodes, paralleled by reduced splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy.In-vivomigration assays revealed reduced migration of CXCR5-deficient DN T cells into lymph nodes, andex-vivo-activated CXCR5-deficient DN T cells failed to infiltrate kidneys of recipients. Moreover, DN T cells and B cells of CXCR5-deficient B6/lpr mice failed to migrate towards CXCL13in vitro. We propose that CXCR5 is involved critically in B cell trafficking and germinal cell (GC) formation in murine lupus and in guiding pathogenic DN T cells into lymphoid organs and kidneys, and we therefore describe new pathomechanisms for the CXCL13/CXCR5 axis in SLE.

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