The Role of Histone Deacetylase 6 Inhibition on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multifactorial inflammatory autoimmune disease with heterogeneous clinical manifestations. Among different manifestations, lupus nephritis (LN) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. There are few FDA approved treatments for LN. In general, they are non-selective and lead to global immunosuppression with significant side effects including an increased risk of infection. In the past 60 years, only one new drug, belimumab was approved for lupus disease with modest efficacy in clinic and not approved for patients suffering for nephritis. Therefore, it is urgent to develop new treatments to replace or reduce the use of current ones. Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) plays a variety of biologic functions in a number of important molecular pathways in diverse immune cells. Both innate and adaptive immune cells contribute to pathogenesis of lupus. Among those cells, B cells play a central role in pathogenesis of lupus nephritis in an anti-body dependent manner through differentiation into plasma cells (PCs). As a result, HDAC6 inhibitors represent an entirely new class of agents that could have potent effects in SLE. Importantly, the available toxicity profile suggests that HDAC6 inhibitors could be advanced into SLE safely. We have demonstrated previously that histone deacetylase (HDAC6) expression is increased in animal models of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and that inhibition of HDAC6 decreased disease. ACY-738 is a hydroxamic acid HDAC6 inhibitor that is highly selective for HDAC6. In our current studies, we tested if an orally selective HDAC6 inhibitor, ACY-738, would decrease disease pathogenesis in a lupus mouse model with established early disease. Moreover, we sought to delineate the cellular and molecular mechanism(s) of action of a selective HDAC6 inhibitor in SLE. In order to define the mechanism by which HDAC6 inhibition decreases disease pathogenesis in NZB/W mice by using RNAseq to evaluate the transcriptomic signatures of splenocytes from treated and untreated mice coupled with applied computational cellular and pathway analysis. In addition, we sought to bridge between the transcriptomic data obtained from the HDAC6 treated mice and human gene expression information to determine the relevance to this target in possibly controlling human lupus. We treated 20-week-old (early-disease) NZB/W F1 female mice with two different doses of the selective HDAC6 inhibitor (ACY-738) for 4~5 weeks. As the mice aged, we determined autoantibody production and cytokine levels by ELISA, and renal function by measuring proteinuria. At the termination of the study, we performed a comprehensive analysis on B cells, T cells, and innate immune cells using flow cytometry and examined renal tissue for immune-mediated pathogenesis using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence. We then used RNAseq to determine the genomic signatures of splenocytes from treated and untreated mice and applied computational cellular and pathway analysis to reveal multiple signaling events associated with B cell activation and differentiation in SLE that were modulated by HDAC6 inhibition. Our results showed a reduced germinal center B cell response, decreased T follicular helper cells and diminished interferon (IFN)-γ production from T helper cells in splenic tissue. Additionally, we found the IFN-α-producing ability of plasmacytoid dendritic cells was decreased along with immunoglobulin isotype switching and the generation of pathogenic autoantibodies. Renal tissue showed decreased immunoglobulin deposition and reduced inflammation as judged by glomerular and interstitial inflammation. The molecular pathways by which B cells become pathogenic PC secreting autoantibodies in SLE are incompletely characterized. RNA sequence data showed that PC development was abrogated and germinal center (GC) formation was greatly reduced. When the HDAC6 inhibitor-treated lupus mouse gene signatures were compared to human lupus patient gene signatures, the results showed numerous immune and inflammatory pathways increased in active human lupus were significantly decreased in the HDAC6 inhibitor treated animals. Pathway analysis suggested alterations in cellular metabolism might contribute to the normalization of lupus mouse spleen genomic signatures, and this was confirmed by direct measurement of the impact of the HDAC6 inhibitor on metabolic activities of murine spleen cells. Taken together, these studies show selective HDAC6 inhibition decreased several parameters of disease pathogenesis in lupus-prone mice. The decrease was in part due to inhibition of B cell development and response. RNA sequence data analysis show HDAC6 inhibition decreases B cell activation signaling pathways and reduces PC differentiation in SLE and suggests that a critical event might be modulation of cellular metabolism.
General Audience Abstract
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease by which immune cells mistakenly attacks healthy self-cells in different organs. Kidney inflammation occurs in nearly 50% of patients with lupus resulting in kidney damage leading to end stage renal disease. Lupus nephritis (LN) is major cause of morbidity and mortality associated with SLE. Current treatments for LN consist primarily of immunosuppressants that block the immune response and leave the patients with unwanted side effects including an increased risk of infection. To circumvent the unwanted side effects, we explored a novel mechanism to target the immune response. My project was to determine whether histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) inhibition would suppress the autoimmune inflammatory response in lupus. We found that inhibition of HDAC6 was effective at attenuating early LN, probably by down-regulating innate immune response, which suppressed subsequent adaptive immune responses downstream. HDAC6 inhibition affected the innate immune response by inhibiting type I interferon production by plasmacytoid dendritic cells. HDAC6 inhibition affected the cell mediated immune response by decreasing T helper cell and B cell activation. To determine the mechanism by which HDAC6 inhibits immune cells activation, we used RNAseq to reveal HDAC6 inhibition on multiple signaling events associated with the induction of lupus disease. These results suggest that HDAC6 could be a potential therapeutic target in the early stage of LN.
- Doctoral Dissertations