Spatial characterization of interface dermatitis in cutaneous lupus reveals novel chemokine ligand-receptor pairs that drive disease

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 Jan 6:2024.01.05.574422. doi: 10.1101/2024.01.05.574422.


Chemokines play critical roles in the recruitment and activation of immune cells in both homeostatic and pathologic conditions. Here, we examined chemokine ligand-receptor pairs to better understand the immunopathogenesis of cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), a complex autoimmune connective tissue disorder. We used suction blister biopsies to measure cellular infiltrates with spectral flow cytometry in the interface dermatitis reaction, as well as 184 protein analytes in interstitial skin fluid using Olink targeted proteomics. Flow and Olink data concordantly demonstrated significant increases in T cells and antigen presenting cells (APCs). We also performed spatial transcriptomics and spatial proteomics of punch biopsies using digital spatial profiling (DSP) technology on CLE skin and healthy margin controls to examine discreet locations within the tissue. Spatial and Olink data confirmed elevation of interferon (IFN) and IFN-inducible CXCR3 chemokine ligands. Comparing involved versus uninvolved keratinocytes in CLE samples revealed upregulation of essential inflammatory response genes in areas near interface dermatitis, including AIM2. Our Olink data confirmed upregulation of Caspase 8, IL-18 which is the final product of AIM2 activation, and induced chemokines including CCL8 and CXCL6 in CLE lesional samples. Chemotaxis assays using PBMCs from healthy and CLE donors revealed that T cells are equally poised to respond to CXCR3 ligands, whereas CD14+CD16+ APC populations are more sensitive to CXCL6 via CXCR1 and CD14+ are more sensitive to CCL8 via CCR2. Taken together, our data map a pathway from keratinocyte injury to lymphocyte recruitment in CLE via AIM2-Casp8-IL-18-CXCL6/CXCR1 and CCL8/CCR2, and IFNG/IFNL1-CXCL9/CXCL11-CXCR3.

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