A Giangreco, E Hoste, Y Takai, I Rosewell, FM Watt
Autoimmune alopecia is characterized by an extensive epidermal T cell infiltrate that mediates hair follicle destruction. We have investigated the role of cell adhesion molecule 1 (Cadm1; Necl2) in this disease. Cadm1 is expressed by epidermal cells and mediates heterotypic adhesion to lymphocytes expressing class 1-restricted T cell-associated molecule (CRTAM). Using a murine autoimmune alopecia model, we observed an increase in early-activated cytotoxic (CD8-restricted, CRTAM-expressing) T cells, which preferentially associated with hair follicle keratinocytes expressing Cadm1. Coculture with Cadm1-transduced MHC-matched APCs stimulated alopecic lymph node cells to release IL-2 and IFN-γ. Overexpression of Cadm1 in cultured human keratinocytes did not promote cytokine secretion, but led to increased adhesion of alopecic cytotoxic T cells and enhanced T cell cytotoxicity in an MHC-independent manner. Epidermal overexpression of Cadm1 in transgenic mice led to increased autoimmune alopecia susceptibility relative to nontransgenic littermate controls. Our findings reveal that Cadm1 expression in the hair follicle plays a role in autoimmune alopecia.