The Role of the TL1A/DR3 Axis in the Activation of Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells in Subjects with Eosinophilic Asthma
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Rationale: Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) are critical for type 2 inflammation. In murine models of asthma, some ILC2s remain activated in the absence of epithelial cell-derived cytokine signaling, implicating alternate stimulatory pathways. DR3 (death receptor 3), a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, is expressed on ILC2s. Genome-wide association studies report an association between DR3 ligand, TL1A (tumor necrosis factor-like protein 1A), and chronic inflammatory conditions.Objectives: We investigated the TL1A/DR3 axis in airway ILC2 biology in eosinophilic asthma.Methods: Stable subjects with mild asthma were subject to allergen inhalation challenge, and DR3 expression on sputum cells was assessed. We investigated cytokine regulation of DR3 expression on ILC2s and steroid sensitivity. Airway TL1A was assessed in sputum from subjects with mild asthma and subjects with prednisone-dependent severe eosinophilic asthma.Measurements and Main Results: There was a significant increase in sputum DR3+ ILC2s 24 hours after allergen challenge, and DR3 expression on ILC2s was upregulated by IL-2, IL-33, or TSLP in vitro. Stimulation with TL1A significantly increased IL-5 expression by ILC2s and was attenuated by dexamethasone, an effect that was negated in the presence of TSLP. Airway TL1A levels were increased 24 hours after allergen challenge in subjects with mild asthma but were significantly greater in those with severe eosinophilic asthma. The highest levels were detected in subjects with severe asthma with airway autoimmune responses. C1q+ immune complexes from the sputa of subjects with severe asthma with high autoantibody levels stimulated TL1A production by monocytes.Conclusions: The TL1A/DR3 axis is a costimulator of ILC2s in asthma, particularly in the airways of patients with a predisposition to autoimmune responses.
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