A distinct T follicular helper cell subset infiltrates the brain in murine neuropsychiatric lupus

Shweta Jain, Ariel Stock, Fernando Macian, Chaim Putterman

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29 Scopus citations


Neuropsychiatric symptoms in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are not uncommon, yet the mechanisms underlying disease initiation and progression in the brain are incompletely understood. Although the role of T cells in other lupus target organs such as the kidney is well defined, which T cells contribute to the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric SLE is not known. The present study was aimed at characterizing the CD4 T cell populations that are present in the choroid plexus (CP) of MRL/MpJ-faslpr mice, the primary site of brain infiltration in this classic lupus mouse model which exhibits a prominent neurobehavioral phenotype. T cells infiltrating the CP of MRL/MpJ-faslpr mice were characterized and subset identification was done by multiparameter flow cytometry. We found that the infiltrating CD4 T cells are activated and have an effector phenotype. Importantly, CD4 T cells have a T follicular helper cell (TFH) like phenotype, as evidenced by their surface markers and signature cytokine, IL-21. In addition, CD4 TFH cells also secrete significant levels of IFN-γ and express Bcl-6, thereby conforming to a potentially pathogenic T helper population that can drive the disease progression. Interestingly, the regulatory axis comprising CD4 T regulatory cells is diminished. These results suggest that accumulation of CD4 TFH in the brain of MRL/MpJ-faslpr mice may contribute to the neuropsychiatric manifestations of SLE, and point to this T cell subset as a possible novel therapeutic candidate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number487
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Jain, Stock, Macian and Putterman.


  • Choroid plexus
  • MRL/lpr
  • Neuropsychiatric lupus
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • T follicular helper cells


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