Thymic Epithelium Determines a Spontaneous Chronic Neuritis in Icam1(tm1JcgrNOD) Mice

Meyer zu Horste et al., J. Immunol. (2014) - PMID: 25108020

Product(s) used in this publication:  Custom Peptide Synthesis


The NOD mouse strain spontaneously develops autoimmune diabetes. A deficiency in costimulatory molecules, such as B7-2, on the NOD genetic background prevents diabetes but instead triggers an inflammatory peripheral neuropathy. This constitutes a shift in the target of autoimmunity, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that NOD mice deficient for isoforms of ICAM-1, which comediate costimulatory functions, spontaneously develop a chronic autoimmune peripheral neuritis instead of diabetes. The disease is transferred by CD4(+) T cells, which infiltrate peripheral nerves together with macrophages and B cells and are autoreactive against peripheral myelin protein zero. These Icam1(tm1Jcgr)NOD mice exhibit unaltered numbers of regulatory T cells, but increased IL-17-producing T cells, which determine the severity, but not the target specificity, of autoimmunity. Ab-mediated ICAM-1 blockade triggers neuritis only in young NOD mice. Thymic epithelium from Icam1(tm1Jcgr)NOD mice features an altered expression of costimulatory molecules and induces neuritis and myelin autoreactivity after transplantation into nude mice in vivo. Icam1(tm1Jcgr)NOD mice exhibit a specifically altered TCR repertoire. Our findings introduce a novel animal model of chronic inflammatory neuropathies and indicate that altered expression of ICAM-1 on thymic epithelium shifts autoimmunity specifically toward peripheral nerves. This improves our understanding of autoimmunity in the peripheral nervous system with potential relevance for human diseases.

Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.

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