Tissue-resident memory CD8+ T cells cooperate with CD4+ T cells to drive compartmentalized immunopathology in the CNS


Vincenti I, Page N, Steinbach K, Yermanos A, Lemeille S, Nunez N, Kreutzfeldt M, Klimek B, Di Liberto G, Egervari K, Piccinno M, Shammas G, Mariotte A, Fonta N, Liaudet N, Shlesinger D, Liuzzi AR, Wagner I, Saadi C, Stadelmann C, Reddy S, Becher B, Merkler D


Science Translational Medicine


Sci Transl Med. 2022 Apr 13;14(640):eabl6058.


In chronic inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), immune cells persisting behind the blood-brain barrier are supposed to promulgate local tissue destruction. The drivers of such compartmentalized inflammation remain unclear, but tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) represent a potentially important cellular player in this process. Here, we investigated whether resting CD8+ TRM persisting after cleared infection with attenuated lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) can initiate immune responses directed against cognate self-antigen in the CNS. We demonstrated that time-delayed conditional expression of the LCMV glycoprotein as neo-self-antigen by glia cells reactivated CD8+ TRM. Subsequently, CD8+ TRM expanded and initiated CNS inflammation and immunopathology in an organ-autonomous manner independently of circulating CD8+ T cells. However, in the absence of CD4+ T cells, TCF-1+ CD8+ TRM failed to expand and differentiate into terminal effectors. Similarly, in human demyelinating CNS autoimmune lesions, we found CD8+ T cells expressing TCF-1 that predominantly exhibited a TRM-like phenotype. Together, our study provides evidence for CD8+ TRM-driven CNS immunopathology and sheds light on why inflammatory processes may evade current immunomodulatory treatments in chronic autoimmune CNS conditions.


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