Homeostatic expansion of autoreactive immunoglobulin-secreting cells in the Rag2 mouse model of Omenn syndrome

B Cassani, PL Poliani, V Marrella, F Schena, AV Sauer, M Ravanini, D Strina, CE Busse, S Regenass, H Wardemann, A Martini, F Facchetti, Mirjam van der Burg, AG Rolink, P Vezzoni, F Grassi, E Traggiai, A Villa

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Hypomorphic RAG mutations, leading to limited V(D)J rearrangements, cause Omenn syndrome (OS), a peculiar severe combined immunodeficiency associated with autoimmune-like manifestations. Whether B cells play a role in OS pathogenesis is so far unexplored. Here we report the detection of plasma cells in lymphoid organs of OS patients, in which circulating B cells are undetectable. Hypomorphic Rag2(R229Q) knock-in mice, which recapitulate OS, revealed, beyond severe B cell developmental arrest, a normal or even enlarged compartment of immunoglobulin-secreting cells (ISC). The size of this ISC compartment correlated with increased expression of Blimp1 and Xbp1, and these ISC were sustained by elevated levels of T cell derived homeostatic and effector cytokines. The detection of high affinity pathogenic autoantibodies toward target organs indicated defaults in B cell selection and tolerance induction. We hypothesize that impaired B cell receptor (BCR) editing and a serum B cell activating factor (BAFF) abundance might contribute toward the development of a pathogenic B cell repertoire in hypomorphic Rag2(R229Q) knock-in mice. BAFF-R blockade reduced serum levels of nucleic acid-specific autoantibodies and significantly ameliorated inflammatory tissue damage. These findings highlight a role for B cells in OS pathogenesis.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1525-1540
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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  • EMC MM-02-72-02

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