Abnormalities in iNKT cells are associated with impaired ability of monocytes to produce IL-10 and suppress T-cell proliferation in sarcoidosis.
Crawshaw A., Kendrick YR., McMichael AJ., Ho L-P.
Sarcoidosis is a multisystem granulomatous disorder characterized by marked T-cell expansion of T helper 1 (Th1) cells. The cause of T-cell overactivity is unknown. We hypothesized that interleukin-10 (IL-10) production by a yet undefined cell type might be defective, resulting in loss of regulation of T-cell activity. Focusing on IL-10-producing monocytes, we first showed that monocytes isolated from the peripheral blood of corticosteroid-naïve sarcoidosis patients (n = 51) produced less IL-10 compared to controls, and were less able to suppress T-cell proliferation. In addition, monocytic IL-10 production correlated negatively with disease activity score. As invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are known to both interact with monocytes and be reduced in sarcoidosis patients, we then asked whether iNKT-specific defects might be responsible for this reduced IL-10 production. We found that greater numbers of circulating iNKT cells was associated with higher IL-10 production. Moreover, iNKT cells enhanced monocytic IL-10 production in vitro. Defective IL-10 production and T-cell suppression by sarcoidosis monocytes could be restored following their coculture with iNKT cells, in a CD1d- and cell contact-dependent process. We suggest that reduced iNKT-cell numbers in sarcoidosis may lead to impaired monocytic IL-10 production and unchecked T-cell expansion in sarcoidosis. These findings provide fresh insight into the mechanism of sarcoidosis disease, and interaction between iNKT cells and monocytes.