Immunopolarization of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells to Type-1-like is associated with melanocyte loss in human vitiligo.
Wańkowicz-Kalińska A., van den Wijngaard RMJGJ., Tigges BJ., Westerhof W., Ogg GS., Cerundolo V., Storkus WJ., Das PK.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition characterized by loss of epidermal melanocytes. High frequencies of melanocyte-reactive cytotoxic T cells in the peripheral blood of vitiligo patients and the observed correlation between perilesional T-cell infiltration and melanocyte loss in situ suggest the important role of cellular autoimmunity in the pathogenesis of this disease. We isolated T cells from both perilesional and nonlesional skin biopsies obtained from five vitiligo patients, then cloned and analyzed their profile of cytokine production after short-term, nonspecific expansion in vitro. Perilesional T-cell clones (TCC) derived from patients with vitiligo exhibited a predominant Type-1-like cytokine secretion profile, whereas the degree of Type-1 polarization in uninvolved skin-derived TCC correlated with the process of microscopically observed melanocyte destruction in situ. Detailed analysis of broad spectrum of cytokines produced by perilesional- and nonlesional-derived CD4+ and CD8+ TCC confirmed polarization toward Type-1-like in both CD4 and CD8 compartments, which paralleled depigmentation process observed locally in the skin. Furthermore, CD8+ TCC derived from two patients also were analyzed for reactivity against autologous melanocytes. The antimelanocyte cytotoxic reactivity was observed among CD8+ TCC isolated from perilesional biopsies of two patients with vitiligo. Finally, in two of five patients, tetramer analysis revealed presence of high frequencies of Mart-1-specific CD8 T cells in T-cell lines derived from perilesional skin. Altogether our data support the role of cellular mechanisms playing a significant part in the destruction of melanocytes in human autoimmune vitiligo.