Lymph Node Stromal Cells Generate Antigen-Specific Regulatory T Cells and Control Autoreactive T and B Cell Responses

Within lymph nodes (LNs), T follicular helper (TFH) cells help B cells to produce antibodies, which can either be protective or autoreactive. Here, we demonstrate that murine LN stromal cells (LNSCs) suppress the formation of autoreactive TFH cells in an antigen-specific manner, thereby significantly reducing germinal center B cell responses directed against the same self-antigen. Mechanistically, LNSCs express and present self-antigens in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, leading to the conversion of naive CD4+ T cells into T regulatory (TREG) cells in an interleukin-2 (IL-2)-dependent manner. Upon blockade of TREG cells, using neutralizing IL-2 antibodies, autoreactive TFH cells are allowed to develop. We conclude that the continuous presentation of self-antigens by LNSCs is critical to generate antigen-specific TREG cells, thereby repressing the formation of TFH cells and germinal center B cell responses. Our findings uncover the ability of LNSCs to suppress the early activation of autoreactive immune cells and maintain peripheral tolerance.


Reza Nadafi,┬áCatarina Gago de Gra├ža,┬áEelco D Keuning,┬áJasper J Koning,┬áSander de Kivit,┬áTanja Konijn,┬áSandrine Henri,┬áJannie Borst,┬áRogier M Reijmers,┬áLisa G M van Baarsen,┬áReina E Mebius.