Targeting kinase ITK treats autoimmune arthritis via orchestrating T cell differentiation and function

Ye Chen, Rongzhen Liang, Xiaoyi Shi, Rong Shen, Liu Liu, Yan Liu, Youqiu Xue, Xinghua Guo, Junlong Dang, Donglan Zeng, Feng Huang, Jianbo Sun, Jingwen Zhang, Julie Wang, Nancy Olsen, Avery August, Weishan Huang, Yunfeng Pan, Song Guo Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


IL-2 inducible T cell kinase (ITK) is critical in T helper subset differentiation and its inhibition has been suggested for the treatment of T cell-mediated inflammatory diseases. T follicular helper (Tfh), Th17 and regulatory T cells (Treg) also play important roles in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), while the role of ITK in the development of RA and the intricate balance between effector T and regulatory T cells remains unclear. Here, we found that CD4+ T cells from RA patients presented with an elevated ITK activation. ITK inhibitor alleviated existing collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and reduced antigen specific antibody production. Blocking ITK kinase activity interferes Tfh cell generation. Moreover, ITK inhibitor effectively rebalances Th17 and Treg cells by regulating Foxo1 translocation. Furthermore, we identified dihydroartemisinin (DHA) as a potential ITK inhibitor, which could inhibit PLC-γ1 phosphorylation and the progression of CIA by rebalancing Th17 and Treg cells. Out data imply that ITK activation is upregulated in RA patients, and therefore blocking ITK signal may provide an effective strategy to treat RA patients and highlight the role of ITK on the Tfh induction and RA progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115886
JournalBiomedicine and Pharmacotherapy
StatePublished - Dec 31 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology

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