University of California, Davis, line 200 and 206 chickens spontaneously develop an autoimmune syndrome that has many features analogous to human scleroderma, including dermal fibrosis, antinuclear antibodies and antibodies to type II collagen. These birds also have thymic subcapsular epithelial defects and an abnormality in T cell calcium influx and proliferation in response to both T cell receptor-dependent and -independent activators. To determine whether fibroblast activation is a contributing factor to development of skin fibrosis in line 200 206 chickens, as it is in human scleroderma, we studied the collagen, non-collagenous protein and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) production of 34 separate fibroblast lines derived from the normal and fibrotic skin of line 200 and 206 chickens and from the skin of control chicken lines 058 and 254. The mean ± SEM 24-h incorporation of 3H-proline or 3H-glucosamine into extracellular collagen, non-collagenous protein or GAG by first passage fibroblast lines derived from the fibrotic skin of diseased birds was 1.526 ± 136, 859 ± 82 and 25.7 ± 1.3 dpm 103 cells, respectively, while fibroblast lines derived from the skin of control birds produced only 341 ± 36, 343 ± 42 and 15.2 ± 1.4 dpm 103 cells. Similar differences in results were recorded for cell-associated production, and when collagen and non-collagenous protein production were assessed using non-radioactive electrophoretic methods. The activated phenotype of the fibroblast lines derived from the fibrotic skin of diseased birds persisted through 10 cell doublings in tissue culture. However, the ratio of type I:III collagen and the profile of GAG types produced were similar in all fibroblast lines studied. These results suggest that fibroblast activation is responsible for the skin fibrosis observed in this avian model of scleroderma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy