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posted on 29.10.2020, 05:29 by Catherine T. Le, Lam T. Khuat, Sofia E. Caryotakis, Marilyn Wang, Cordelia Dunai, Alan V. Nguyen, Logan V. Vick, Kevin M. Stoffel, Bruce R. Blazar, Arta M. Monjazeb, William J. Murphy, Athena M. Soulika

Despite obesity reaching pandemic proportions, its impact on antigen-specific T cell responses is still unclear. We have recently demonstrated that obesity results in increased expression of PD-1 on T cells, and checkpoint blockade targeting PD-1/PD-L1 surprisingly resulted in greater clinical efficacy in cancer therapy. Adverse events associated with this therapy center around autoimmune reactions. In this study, we examined the impact of obesity on T cell priming and on autoimmune pathogenesis using the mouse model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), which is mediated by autoreactive myelin-specific T cells generated after immunization. We observed that diet-induced obese (DIO) mice had a markedly delayed EAE onset and developed milder clinical symptoms compared to mice on control diet (CD). This delay was associated with impaired generation of myelin-specific T cell numbers and concurrently correlated with increased PD-L1 upregulation on antigen-presenting cells in secondary lymphoid organs. PD-1 blockade during the priming stage of EAE restored disease onset and severity and increased numbers of pathogenic CD4+ T cells in the central nervous system (CNS) of DIO mice to similar levels to those of CD mice. Administration of anti–PD-1 after onset of clinical symptoms did not increase EAE pathogenesis demonstrating that initial priming is the critical juncture affected by obesity. These findings demonstrate that obesity impairs antigen-specific T cell priming, but this can be reversed with PD-1 blockade. Our results further suggest that PD-1 blockade may increase the risk of autoimmune toxicities, particularly in obesity.

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