Faculty Research 1990 - 1999

Title

Apoptosis and the thymic microenvironment in murine lupus [In Process Citation]

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1999

JAX Source

J Autoimmun 1999 Nov; 13(3):325-34.

Abstract

The thymus of New Zealand black (NZB) mice undergoes premature involution In addition, cultured thymic epithelial cells from NZB mice undergo accelerated preprogrammed degeneration. NZB mice also have distinctive and well-defined abnormalities of thymic architecture involving stromal cells, defined by staining with monoclonal antibodies specific for the thymic microenvironment. We took advantage of these findings, as well as our large panel of monoclonal antibodies which recognize thymic stroma, to study the induction of apoptosis in the thymus of murine lupus and including changes of epithelial architecture. We studied NZB, MRL/lpr, BXSB/Yaa, C3H/gld mice and BALB/c and C57BL/6 as control mice. Apoptosis was studied both at basal levels and following induction with either dexamethasone or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The apoptotic cells were primarily found in the thymic cortex, and the frequency of apoptosis in murine lupus was less than 20% of controls. Moreover, all strains of murine lupus had severe abnormalities of the cortical network. These changes were not accentuated by dexamethasone treatment in cultured thymocytes. However, the thymus in murine lupus was less susceptible to LPS-induced apoptosis than control mice. Finally we note that the number of thymic nurse cells (TNC) was lowest in NZB mice. Our findings demonstrate significant abnormalities in the induction of apoptosis and the formation of TNC-like epithelial cells in SLE mice, and suggest that the abnormalities of the thymic microenvironment have an

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