The response of T cells to interleukin-6 is differentially regulated by the microenvironment of the rheumatoid synovial fluid and tissue.
Hidalgo E., Essex SJ., Yeo L., Curnow SJ., Filer A., Cooper MS., Thomas AM., McGettrick HM., Salmon M., Buckley CD., Raza K., Scheel-Toellner D.
OBJECTIVE: Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a proinflammatory cytokine with regulatory effects on the survival and differentiation of T cells. It exerts its biologic function in 2 ways: by directly binding to the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R; CD126) or via trans-signaling, in which soluble IL-6R/IL-6 complexes bind to the signaling component CD130. This study was undertaken to assess the expression and regulation of CD126 and CD130 and determine how these affect the response of CD4+ T cells to IL-6 in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: Flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy were used to determine the expression, function, and regulation of CD126 and CD130 in CD4+ T cells from the peripheral blood (PB), synovial fluid (SF), and synovial tissue of RA patients. RESULTS: Compared to the findings in RA PB, CD4+ T cells in the SF and synovial tissue expressed low levels of CD126. In contrast, whereas CD4+ T cell expression of CD130 was minimal in the SF, its level in the synovial tissue was high. Consistent with this phenotype, synovial tissue T cells responded to trans-signaling by soluble IL-6R/IL-6 complexes, whereas no response was evident in CD4+ T cells from the SF. Down-regulation of both receptor components in SF T cells could be explained by exposure to high levels of IL-6. Increased levels of CD130 messenger RNA and protein in synovial tissue CD4+ T cells suggested that CD130 is up-regulated locally. Among a range of cytokines tested, only IL-10 induced CD130 expression in T cells. CONCLUSION: The inflamed microenvironment in the synovial tissue maintains responsiveness to IL-6 trans-signaling through the up-regulation of CD130 expression in CD4+ T cells, and this process may be driven by IL-10.