Fine specificities of natural regulatory T cells after IVIG therapy in patients with Kawasaki disease.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.3109/08916934.2015.1027817
The activation of natural regulatory T cells (nTreg) recognizing the heavy constant region (Fc) of IgG is an important mechanism of action of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy in Kawasaki disease (KD). Lack of circulating Fc-specific nTreg in the sub-acute phase of KD is correlated with the development of coronary artery abnormalities (CAA). Here, we characterize the fine specificity of nTreg in sub-acute (2- to 8-week post-IVIG) and convalescent (1- to 10-year post-IVIG) KD subjects by testing the immunogenicity of 64 peptides, 15 amino acids in length with a 10 amino acid-overlap spanning the entire Fc protein. About 12 Fc peptides (6 pools of 2 consecutive peptides) were recognized by nTreg in the cohorts studied, including two patients with CAA. To test whether IVIG expands the same nTreg populations that maintain vascular homeostasis in healthy subjects, we compared these results with results obtained in healthy adult controls. Similar nTreg fine specificities were observed in KD patients after IVIG and in healthy donors. These results suggest that T cell fitness rather than T cell clonal deletion or anergy is responsible for the lack of Fc-specific nTreg in KD patients who develop CAA. Furthermore, we found that adolescents and adults who had KD during childhood without developing CAA did not respond to the Fc protein in vitro, suggesting that the nTreg response induced by IVIG in KD patients is short-lived. Our results support the concept that peptide epitopes may be a viable therapeutic approach to expand Fc-specific nTreg and more effectively prevent CAA in KD patients.