Chronic follicular bronchiolitis requires antigen-specific regulatory T cell control to prevent fatal disease progression

Erica G. Schmitt, Dipica Haribhai, Jonathan C. Jeschke, Dominic O. Co, Jennifer Ziegelbauer, Ke Yan, Yoichiro Iwakura, Manoj K. Mishra, Pippa Simpson, Nita H. Salzman, Calvin B. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


To study regulatory T (Treg) cell control of chronic autoimmunity in a lymphoreplete host, we created and characterized a new model of autoimmune lung inflammation that targets the medium and small airways. We generated transgenic mice that express a chimeric membrane protein consisting of hen egg lysozyme and a hemoglobin epitope tag under the control of the Clara cell secretory protein promoter, which largely limited transgene expression to the respiratory bronchioles. When Clara cell secretory protein-membrane hen egg lysozyme/hemoglobin transgenic mice were crossed to N3.L2 TCR transgenic mice that recognize the hemoglobin epitope, the bigenic progeny developed dense, pseudo-follicular lymphocytic peribronchiolar infiltrates that resembled the histological pattern of follicular bronchiolitis. Aggregates of activated IFN-γ- and IL-17A-secreting CD4+ T cells as well as B cells surrounded the airways. Lung pathology was similar in Ifng-/- and Il17a-/- mice, indicating that either cytokine is sufficient to establish chronic disease. A large number of Ag-specific Treg cells accumulated in the lesions, and Treg cell depletion in the affected mice led to an interstitial spread of the disease that ultimately proved fatal. Thus, Treg cells act to restrain autoimmune responses, resulting in an organized and controlled chronic pathological process rather than a progressive disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5460-5476
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


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