Objective: The hygiene hypothesis suggests that parasitic helminths (worms) protect against the development of autoimmune disease via a serendipitous side effect of worm-derived immunomodulators that concomitantly promote parasite survival and limit host pathology. The aim of this study was to investigate whether ES-62, a phosphorylcholine-containing glycoprotein secreted by the filarial nematode Acanthocheilonema viteae, protects against kidney damage in an MRL/lpr mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: MRL/lpr mice progressively produce high levels of autoantibodies, and the resultant deposition of immune complexes drives kidney pathology. The effects of ES-62 on disease progression were assessed by measurement of proteinuria, assessment of kidney histology, determination of antinuclear antibody (ANA) production and cytokine levels, and flow cytometric analysis of relevant cellular populations.
Results: ES-62 restored the disrupted balance between effector and regulatory B cells in MRL/lpr mice by inhibiting plasmablast differentiation, with a consequent reduction in ANA production and deposition of immune complexes and C3a in the kidneys. Moreover, by reducing interleukin-22 production, ES-62 may desensitize downstream effector mechanisms in the pathogenesis of kidney disease. Highlighting the therapeutic importance of resetting B cell responses, adoptive transfer of purified splenic B cells from ES-62-treated MRL/lpr mice mimicked the protection afforded by the helminth product. Mechanistically, this reflects down-regulation of myeloid differentiation factor 88 expression by B cells and also kidney cells, resulting in inhibition of pathogenic cross-talk among Toll-like receptor-, C3a-, and immune complex-mediated effector mechanisms.
Conclusion: This study provides the first demonstration of protection against kidney pathology by a parasitic worm-derived immunomodulator in a model of SLE and suggests therapeutic potential for drugs based on the mechanism of action of ES-62.
© 2015 The Authors. Arthritis & Rheumatology is published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology.