Auto-aggressive CXCR6(+) CD8 T cells cause liver immune pathology in NASH

Michael Dudek, Dominik Pfister, Sainitin Donakonda, Pamela Filpe, Annika Schneider, Melanie Laschinger, Daniel Hartmann, Norbert Hueser, Philippa Meiser, Felix Bayerl, Donato Inverso, Jennifer Wigger, Marcial Sebode, Rupert Oellinger, Roland Rad, Silke Hegenbarth, Martina Anton, Adrien Guillot, Andrew Bowman, Danijela HeideFlorian Mueller, Pierluigi Ramadori, Valentina Leone, Cristina Garcia-Caceres, Tim Gruber, Gabriel Seifert, Agnieszka M. Kabat, Jan-Philipp Malm, Simon Reider, Maria Effenberger, Susanne Roth, Adrian T. Billeter, Beat Mueller-Stich, Edward J. Pearce, Friedrich Koch-Nolte, Rafael Kaeser, Herbert Tilg, Robert Thimme, Tobias Boettler, Frank Tacke, Jean-Francois Dufour, Dirk Haller, Peter J. Murray, Ron Heeren, Dietmar Zehn, Jan P. Boettcher, Mathias Heikenwaelder, Percy A. Knolle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a manifestation of systemic metabolic disease related to obesity, and causes liver disease and cancer 1,2. The accumulation of metabolites leads to cell stress and inflammation in the liver 3, but mechanistic understandings of liver damage in NASH are incomplete. Here, using a preclinical mouse model that displays key features of human NASH (hereafter, NASH mice), we found an indispensable role for T cells in liver immunopathology. We detected the hepatic accumulation of CD8 T cells with phenotypes that combined tissue residency (CXCR6) with effector (granzyme) and exhaustion (PD1) characteristics. Liver CXCR6 + CD8 T cells were characterized by low activity of the FOXO1 transcription factor, and were abundant in NASH mice and in patients with NASH. Mechanistically, IL-15 induced FOXO1 downregulation and CXCR6 upregulation, which together rendered liver-resident CXCR6 + CD8 T cells susceptible to metabolic stimuli (including acetate and extracellular ATP) and collectively triggered auto-aggression. CXCR6 + CD8 T cells from the livers of NASH mice or of patients with NASH had similar transcriptional signatures, and showed auto-aggressive killing of cells in an MHC-class-I-independent fashion after signalling through P2X7 purinergic receptors. This killing by auto-aggressive CD8 T cells fundamentally differed from that by antigen-specific cells, which mechanistically distinguishes auto-aggressive and protective T cell immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-449
Number of pages31
Issue number7854
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021


  • IL-15
  • Transcription factors
  • Inflammation
  • Biology
  • Metabolism
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Mouse
  • Il-15
  • Models
  • Effector function
  • Release
  • Author Correction: Auto-aggressive CXCR6+ CD8 T cells cause liver immune pathology in NASH

    Dudek, M., Pfister, D., Donakonda, S., Filpe, P., Schneider, A., Laschinger, M., Hartmann, D., Hüser, N., Meiser, P., Bayerl, F., Inverso, D., Wigger, J., Sebode, M., Öllinger, R., Rad, R., Hegenbarth, S., Anton, M., Guillot, A., Bowman, A., Heide, D., & 28 othersMüller, F., Ramadori, P., Leone, V., Garcia-Caceres, C., Gruber, T., Seifert, G., Kabat, A. M., Mallm, J-P., Reider, S., Effenberger, M., Roth, S., Billeter, A. T., Müller-Stich, B., Pearce, E. J., Koch-Nolte, F., Käser, R., Tilg, H., Thimme, R., Boettler, T., Tacke, F., Dufour, J-F., Haller, D., Murray, P. J., Heeren, R., Zehn, D., Böttcher, J. P., Heikenwälder, M. & Knolle, P. A., 27 May 2021, In: Nature. 593, 7860, p. E14-E14 1 p., E14.

    Research output: Contribution to journalErratum / corrigendum / retractionsAcademic

    Open Access

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