There are distinct microenvironmental abnormalities of thymic architecture in several murine models of SLE defined using immunohistochemistry and a panel of mAb dissected at thymic epithelial markers. To address the issue of the relationship between the thymic microenvironment and autoimmunity, we studied backcross (NZB x NZW) F1 x NZW mice in which 50% of offspring develop nephritis associated with proteinuria and anti-DNA antibodies. We reasoned that if thymic abnormalities are associated with development of disease, the correlation of abnormalities with lupus-like disease in individual backcross mice will form the foundation for identification of the mechanisms involved. In parallel, we directed a genetic linkage analysis, using markers previously shown to be linked to nephritis and IgG autoantibody production, to determine if such loci were similarly associated with microenvironmental changes. Our data demonstrate that all (NZB x NZW) F1 x NZW backcross mice with disease have microenvironmental defects. Although the microenvironmental defects are not sufficient for development of autoimmune disease, the severity of thymic abnormalities correlates with titers of IgG autoantibodies to DNA and with proteinuria. Consistent with past studies of (NZB x NZW) F1 x NZW mice, genetic markers on proximal chromosome 17 (near MHC) and distal chromosome 4 showed trends for linkage with nephritis. Although the markers chosen only covered about 10- 15% of the genome, the results demonstrated trends for linkage with thymic medullary abnormalities for loci on distal chromosome 4 and distal chromosome 1. We believe it will be important to define the biochemical nature of the molecules recognized by these mAbs to understand the relationships between thymic architecture and immunopathology.
- Thymic microenvironment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine