UCD line 200 chickens develop an inherited fibrotic disease associated with the production of antinuclear antibodies, antibodies to type II collagen, and early skin lesions characterized by intense T lymphocyte infiltrates. In the present study we have investigated the hypothesis that developmental abnormalities in T lymphocyte differentiation predispose the line 200 chickens to autoimmune disease. The status of the thymic microenvironment in these birds during ontogeny was studied with an extensive panel of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) reactive with distinct stromal cell subsets including MHC determinants. In addition, their T-cell graft-versus-host reactivity and responses to mitogenic stimulation and interleukin (IL)-2 were also analyzed. Line 200 chickens have profound defects in thymic structure with a virtual complete absence of antigens specific for type I epithelium which lines the thymic subcapsular and perivascular regions. There are excessive levels of MHC class II positive cells, particularly in the cortex, and B cells/subset macrophages identified by mAb MUI 36. These defects are found from the late embryonic period, long before clinical disease is manifest. Furthermore, by FACS analysis, line 200 thymocytes have a major increase in IL-2 receptor density. In addition, line 200 chicken peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) respond poorly to mitogenic agents and have a reduced response to IL-2. Finally, it is important to note that line 200 PBL produce a normal graft-versus-host reaction. We propose that these abnormalities in T-cell differentiation are selective, not global, and may be reflective of a defect in thymic education resulting in an inappropriate response to self-antigens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine