Highly differentiated cytotoxic T cells in inclusion body myositis

Brain. 2019 Sep 1;142(9):2590-2604. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz207.


Inclusion body myositis is a late onset treatment-refractory autoimmune disease of skeletal muscle associated with a blood autoantibody (anti-cN1A), an HLA autoimmune haplotype, and muscle pathology characterized by cytotoxic CD8+ T cell destruction of myofibres. Here, we report on translational studies of inclusion body myositis patient muscle compared with a diverse set of other muscle disease samples. Using available microarray data on 411 muscle samples from patients with inclusion body myositis (n = 40), other muscle diseases (n = 265), and without neuromuscular disease (normal, n = 106), we identified a signature of T-cell cytotoxicity in inclusion body myositis muscle coupled with a signature of highly differentiated CD8 T-cell effector memory and terminally differentiated effector cells. Further, we examined killer cell lectin-like receptor G1 (KLRG1) as a marker of this population of cells, demonstrated the correlation of KLRG1 gene expression with lymphocyte cytotoxicity across 28 870 human tissue samples, and identified the presence of KLRG1 on pathogenic inclusion body myositis muscle invading T cells and an increase in KLRG1 expressing T cells in inclusion body myositis blood. We examined inclusion body myositis muscle T-cell proliferation by Ki67 immunohistochemistry demonstrating that diseased muscle-invading T cells are minimally or non-proliferative, in accordance with known properties of highly differentiated or terminally differentiated T cells. We found low expression of KLRG1 on infection-protective human lymphoid tissue central memory T cells and autoimmune-protective human blood regulatory T cells. Targeting highly differentiated cytotoxic T cells could be a favourable approach to treatment of inclusion body myositis.

Keywords: KLRG1; inclusion body myositis; inflammatory myopathy; myositis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lectins, C-Type / biosynthesis*
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / immunology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / immunology
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / metabolism*
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / pathology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / immunology


  • KLRG1 protein, human
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Receptors, Immunologic