Control and induction of tumor necrosis factor and its receptors on human lymphocytes: a critical structure for immune regulation
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Type I diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing β cells in the pancreas. Destruction of the body's own proteins, cells, and tissues is precipitated by the dysfunction of cytokine production, protein modification, and signaling pathways in immune cell subtypes. Tumor Necrosis Factor α (TNFα) and its receptors Tumor Necrosis Factor 1 (TNFR1) also known as p55 and TNFRSF1A, and Tumor Necrosis Factor 2 (TNFR2) also known as P75 and TNFRSF1B play a crucial role in this autoimmune process. TNFα has been shown to stimulate cell death through TNFR1 signaling by the caspase system, while promoting cell survival through TNFR2 signaling using the Nuclear Factor Kappa-Light-Chain-Enhancer of Activated B cells (NF-𝜅B) pathway. Recent findings show a defect in immuno-proteasomes found in autoreactive T cells in people with T1D. This defect causes improper signaling transduction when TNFα binds to TNFR2. The inability to save the cell by activating the NF-𝜅B pathway eventually leads instead to apoptosis using the caspase system. A decrease in TNFα or increase in soluble TNFα receptors might be an explanation for these autoreactive T cells to evade the host immune system, and allow them to cause destruction of the pancreas. We hypothesize that patients with T1D will show abnormal distribution of TNFα and its receptors at basal levels, as well as when stimulated with interleukins, cytokines, and bacteria such as interleukin-2 (IL-2), lipotechoic acid (LTA), granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). To test this hypothesis, we obtained peripheral blood from T1D patients (n=102) and controls (n=89) and performed in vitro stimulation assays. After a 48-hour incubation, tissue culture supernatants were collected and analyzed for TNF and its receptors production by ELISA, as well as densities of cell membrane receptors by flow cytometry. The data from this study showed significant differences in basal levels of TNFα, TNFR1, and TNFR2 on both the membrane and in the serum between patients and controls. Patients contained a greater percentage of CD4, 8, and 14 - TNFR2 and not TNFR1 double positive cells than their healthy control counterparts. Patient's sera also contained higher levels of all three markers, sTNFα, sTNFR1, and sTNFR2 than the controls. However, no significant differences were found between patient and controls when stimulated with the various compounds listed above.