Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP)-induced polyclonal B-cell activation and autoimmunity are mediated by CD4+ T cells and IL-4

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The cytokine thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) functions as a regulator of bone marrow B-cell development and a key initiator of allergic inflammation. In the current study, we show that mature B cells, derived from transgenic mice with systemically elevated levels of TSLP (K5-TSLP mice), exhibit markedly enhanced mitogenic responses in vitro and that this enhanced responsiveness leads to polyclonal B-cell activation and development of autoimmune hemolytic anemia in vivo. In contrast, B cells derived from K5-TSLP mice lacking CD4+ T cells failed to show polyclonal activation. Furthermore, neither mature B-cell activation nor hemolytic anemia occurred in IL-4-deficient K5-TSLP mice. Consistent with these findings, activation of mature B cells occurred independently of B-cell intrinsic TSLP signals. Taken together, our results demonstrate that systemic alterations in TSLP, through induction of IL-4 from CD4+ T cells and other cell types, functions as an important factor in peripheral B-cell homeostasis and promotion of humoral autoimmunity.

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