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1.  Activation-Induced Deaminase-deficient MRL/lpr mice secrete high levels of protective antibodies against lupus nephritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(4):1086-1096.
We previously generated MRL/lpr mice deficient in the activation-induced deaminase (AID) who lack isotype switching and immunoglobulin hypermutation. These mice have high levels of unmutated (germline) autoreactive IgM yet experienced an increase in survival and an improvement in lupus nephritis that exceeded that of MRL/lpr mice lacking IgG. Herein, we test the hypothesis that high levels of germline autoreactive IgM in these mice confer protection against lupus nephritis.
Autoreactive IgM antibodies of various specificities including against dsDNA from AID-deficient-MRL/lpr mice were given to asymptomatic MRL/lpr mice and the levels of cytokines, proteinuria, immune complex deposition in the kidneys, and glomerulonephritis were examined. Novel AID-deficient MRL/lpr mice that lack any antibodies were generated to compare to AID-deficient-MRL/lpr mice that secrete only IgM.
Anti-dsDNA IgM treatment resulted in a dramatic improvement in lupus nephritis. Other autoreactive IgM’s such as anti-phospholipid and anti-Smith antigen did not alter pathology. Secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines by macrophages, and the levels of inflammatory cells and apoptotic debris in the kidneys were lower in mice receiving anti-dsDNA IgM. Protective IgM derived from AID-deficient-MRL/lpr mice, displayed a distinct B cell repertoire, with a bias towards members of the Vh7183 family.
Anti-dsDNA IgM protected MRL/lpr mice from lupus nephritis likely by stopping the inflammatory cascade leading to kidney damage. A distinct repertoire of Vh usage in anti-dsDNA IgM hybridomas from AID-deficient mice, suggests enrichment in these mice of a dedicated B cell population that secretes unmutated protective IgM.
PMCID: PMC3079514  PMID: 21225690
2.  AID dysregulation in lupus-prone MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice increases class switch DNA recombination and promotes interchromosomal c-Myc/IgH loci translocations: modulation by HoxC4 
Autoimmunity  2011;44(8):585-598.
Immunoglobulin (Ig) gene somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class switch DNA recombination (CSR) play important roles in the generation of autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus. Systemic lupus is characterized by the production of an array of pathogenic high-affinity mutated and class-switched, mainly IgG, antibodies to a variety of self-antigens, including nuclear components, such as dsDNA, histones and chromatin. We previously found that MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice, which develop a systemic autoimmune syndrome sharing many features with human lupus, display greatly upregulated CSR, particularly to IgG2a, in B cells of the spleen, lymph nodes and Peyer’s patches. In MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice, the significant upregulation of CSR is associated with increased expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which is critical for CSR and SHM. We also found that HoxC4 directly activates the promoter of the AID gene to induce AID expression, CSR and SHM. Here, we show that in both lupus patients and lupus-prone MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice, the expression of HoxC4 and AID is significantly upregulated. To further analyze the role of HoxC4 in lupus, we generated HoxC4−/− MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice. In these mice, HoxC4-deficiency resulted in reduced AID expression, impaired CSR and decreased serum anti-dsDNA IgG, particularly IgG2a, autoantibodies, which were associated with a reduction in IgG deposition in kidney glomeruli. In addition, consistent with our previous findings that in MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice, upregulated AID expression is associated with extensive DNA lesions, comprising deletions and insertions in the IgH locus, we found c-Myc to IgH(c-Myc/IgH) translocations to occur frequently in B cells of MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice. The frequency of such translocations was significantly reduced in HoxC4−/− MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice. These findings suggest that in lupus B cells, upregulation of HoxC4 plays a major role in dysregulation of AID expression, thereby increasing CSR and autoantibody production, and promoting c-Myc/IgH translocations.
PMCID: PMC3762595  PMID: 21585311
Activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID); B cell lymphoma; cancer; class switch DNA recombination (CSR); c-Myc/IgH translocation; HoxC4; MRL/Faslpr/lpr mice; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
3.  Clinical and Serologic Manifestations of Autoimmune Disease in MRL-lpr/lpr Mice Lacking Nitric Oxide Synthase Type 2  
Nitric oxide (NO) is an important mediator of the inflammatory response. MRL–lpr/lpr mice overexpress inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS2) and overproduce NO in parallel with the development of an autoimmune syndrome with a variety of inflammatory manifestations. In previous studies, we showed that inhibiting NO production with the nonselective nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor NG-monomethyl–arginine reduced glomerulonephritis, arthritis, and vasculitis in MRL–lpr/lpr mice. To define further the role of NO and NOS2 in disease in MRL–lpr/lpr mice, mice with targeted disruption of NOS2 were produced by homologous recombination and bred to MRL–lpr/lpr mice to the N4 generation. MRL–lpr/lpr littermates homozygous for disrupted NOS2 (−/−), heterozygous for disrupted NOS2 (+/−), or wildtype (+/+) were derived for this study. Measures of NO production were markedly decreased in the MRL-lpr/lpr (−/−) mice compared with MRL-lpr/lpr (+/+) mice, with intermediate production by the MRL-lpr/lpr (+/−) mice. There was no detectable NOS2 protein by immunoblot analysis of the spleen, liver, kidney, and peritoneal macrophages of the (−/−) animals, whereas that of (+/+) was high and (+/−) intermediate. The (−/−) mice developed glomerular and synovial pathology similar to that of the (+/−) and (+/+) mice. However, (−/−) mice and (+/−) mice had significantly less vasculitis of medium-sized renal vessels than (+/+) mice. IgG rheumatoid factor levels were significantly lower in the (−/−) mice as compared with (+/+) mice, but levels of anti-DNA antibodies were comparable in all groups. Our findings show that NO derived from NOS2 has a variable impact on disease manifestations in MRL-lpr/lpr mice, suggesting heterogeneity in disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2199001  PMID: 9236188
4.  The role of interleukin 12 and nitric oxide in the development of spontaneous autoimmune disease in MRLMP-lprlpr mice 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1996;183(4):1447-1459.
MRL/MP-lpr/lpr (MRL/lpr) mice develop a spontaneous autoimmune disease. Serum from these mice contained significantly higher concentrations of nitrite/nitrate than serum from age-matched control MRL/MP-+/+ (MRL/+), BALB/c or CBA/6J mice. Spleen and peritoneal cells from MRL/lpr mice also produced significantly more nitric oxide (NO) than those from the control mice when cultured with interferon (IFN) gamma and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in vitro. It is interesting to note that peritoneal cells from MRL/lpr mice also produced markedly higher concentrations of interleukin (IL) 12 than those from MRL/+ or BALB/c mice when cultured with same stimuli. It is striking that cells from MRL/lpr mice produced high concentrations of NO when cultured cells from MRL/+ or BALB/c mice. The enhanced NO synthesis induced by IFN- gamma/LPS was substantially inhibited by anti-IL-12 antibody. In addition, IL-12-induced NO production can also be markedly inhibited by anti-IFN-gamma antibody, but only weakly inhibited by anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha antibody. The effect of IL-12 on NO production was dependent on the presence of natural killer and possibly T cells. Serum from MRL/lpr mice contained significantly higher concentrations of IL-12 compared with those of MRL/+ or BALB/c control mice. Daily injection of recombinant IL-12 led to increased serum levels of IFN- gamma and NO metabolites, and accelerated glomerulonephritis in the young MRL/lpr mice (but not in the MRL/+ mice) compared with controls injected with phosphate-buffered saline alone. These data, together with previous finding that NO synthase inhibitors can ameliorate autoimmune disease in MRL/lpr mice, suggest that high capacity of such mice to produce IL-12 and their greater responsiveness to IL-12, leading to the production of high concentrations of NO, are important factors in this spontaneous model of autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC2192535  PMID: 8666903
5.  Heat shock protein 90 inhibition by 17-DMAG lessens disease in the MRL/lpr mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus 
Elevated expression of heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) has been found in kidneys and serum of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and MRL/Mp-Faslpr/Faslpr (MRL/lpr) autoimmune mice. We investigated if inhibition of HSP90 would reduce disease in MRL/lpr mice. In vitro, pretreatment of mesangial cells with HSP90 inhibitor Geldanamycin prior to immune-stimulation showed reduced expression of IL-6, IL-12 and NO. In vivo, we found HSP90 expression was elevated in MRL/lpr kidneys when compared to C57BL/6 mice and MRL/lpr mice treated with HSP90 inhibitor 17-DMAG. MRL/lpr mice treated with 17-DMAG showed decreased proteinuria and reduced serum anti-dsDNA antibody production. Glomerulonephritis and glomerular IgG and C3 were not significantly affected by administration of 17-DMAG in MRL/lpr. 17-DMAG increased CD8+ T cells, reduced double-negative T cells, decreased the CD4/CD8 ratio and reduced follicular B cells. These studies suggest that HSP90 may play a role in regulating T-cell differentiation and activation and that HSP90 inhibition may reduce inflammation in lupus.
PMCID: PMC4012849  PMID: 22543833
Geldanamycin; heat shock protein 90; MRL/lpr; systemic lupus erythematosus; 17-DMAG
6.  Imbalance towards Th1 predominance is associated with acceleration of lupus-like autoimmune syndrome in MRL mice. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;97(7):1597-1604.
To investigate the respective roles of Th1 and Th2 cells in the pathogenesis of lupus-like autoimmune disease, we have analyzed the spontaneous and antigen-induced productions of IgG1 vs IgG2a and IgG3 subclasses in relation to the mRNA expression of INF-gamma (Th1 cytokine promoting IgG2a and IgG3 production), IL-4 (Th2 cytokine promoting IgG1 production), and IL-10 (Th2 cytokine) in CD4+ T cells from lupus-prone MRL mice. For this purpose, two paired sets of MRL mice were chosen for the comparison of these parameters: (a) MRL-lpr/lpr (lpr for lymphoproliferation) and its recently described substrain with a prolonged survival, termed MRL-lpr/lpr.ll (ll for long lived) and (b) MRL male mice bearing the Yaa (Y-linked autoimmune acceleration) gene (MRL.Yaa) with an accelerated disease and their male counterparts lacking the Yaa gene. We demonstrate herein that the accelerated development of lupus-like autoimmune disease in MRL-lpr/lpr and MRL.Yaa mice, as compared with MRL-lpr/lpr.ll and MRL-+/+ mice, respectively, was correlated with an enhanced expression of IFN-gamma vs IL-4 and IL-10 mRNA in CD4+ T cells, which paralleled with an increase of spontaneous and foreign T cell-dependent antigen-induced productions of IgG2a and IgG3 vs IgG1 antibodies. These data suggest that an imbalance towards Th1 predominance may play a significant role in the acceleration of lupus-like autoimmune disease in MRL mice.
PMCID: PMC507222  PMID: 8601623
7.  Distinct clonotypes of anti-DNA antibodies in mice with lupus nephritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1985;76(2):685-694.
Clonotypes of IgG anti-DNA antibodies were studied by isoelectric focusing in various autoimmune mice with or without lethal lupus nephritis. MRL/MpJ-lpr/lpr mice exhibited the most heterogeneous spectrotypes of anti-DNA antibodies in the pH range from 6.5 to 8.5, with marked variation in individual mice. Female (NZB X NZW)F1 mice expressed rather uniform DNA-binding bands composed of at least five to six distinct subgroups, having isoelectric points from 6.5 to 8.0. Male BXSB mice showed major characteristic bands confined to alkaline pH range from 7.8 to 8.5, similar to C57BL/6J-lpr/lpr mice, which showed markedly restricted bands in this region. Both AKR/J-lpr/lpr and C3H/HeJ-lpr/lpr mice expressed DNA-binding bands mostly focused between pH 6.5 and 8.2. The aging study indicated that three autoimmune mice (MRL/MpJ-lpr/lpr, [NZB X NZW]F1, and male BXSB) that developed fatal glomerulonephritis showed clonal expansion of anti-DNA antibodies throughout their life. In contrast, such age-dependent expansion of anti-DNA clonotypes was not evident in three lpr cogenic mice (C57BL/6J-lpr/lpr, AKR/J-lpr/lpr, and C3H/HeJ-lpr/lpr) that developed only mild glomerulonephritis; rather, their expression of anti-DNA spectrotypes diminished as they aged. Anti-DNA activities in renal eluates from nephritic autoimmune mice were mostly distributed in the pH range from 6.5 to 8.0, without significant concentrations in the high alkaline range of more than pH 8.0. These results suggest that there exist distinct anti-DNA clonotypes in each mouse strain and that the development of lupus nephritis does not appear to be associated with particular spectrotypes of anti-DNA antibodies. Rather, the age-dependent expansion of anti-DNA clonotypes may be a feature more characteristic of mice developing lethal lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC423876  PMID: 3875630
8.  Abrogation of lupus nephritis in Activation-Induced Deaminase-deficient MRL/lpr Mice1 
We generated MRL/lpr mice deficient in the Activation Induced Deaminase (AID). Because AID is required for immunoglobulin hypermutation and class switch recombination, these mice lack hypermutated IgG antibodies. Unlike their AID wild-type littermates, AID-deficient MRL/lpr mice not only lacked autoreactive IgG antibodies, but also experienced a dramatic increase in the levels of autoreactive IgM. This phenotype in AID-deficient mice translated into a dramatic reduction in glomerulonephritis, minimal mononuclear cell infiltration in the kidney, and a dramatic increase in survival to levels comparable to previously reported for MRL/lpr mice completely lacking B cells and levels well below those of mice lacking secreted antibodies. Therefore, this study, wherein littermates with either high levels of autoreactive IgM or autorective IgG are directly examined, proves that autoreactive IgM antibodies alone are not sufficient to promote kidney disease in MRL/lpr mice. In addition, the substantial decrease in mortality combined with a dramatic increase in autoreactive IgM antibodies in AID-deficient MRL/lpr mice, suggest that autoreactive IgM antibodies might not only fail to promote nephritis, but may also provide a protective role in MRL/lpr mice. This novel mouse model containing high levels of autoreactive, unmutated IgM antibodies will help delineate the contribution of autoreactive IgM to autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2131724  PMID: 17513793
autoimmunity; B cells; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Autoantibodies
9.  Interferon-gamma is required for lupus-like disease and lymphoaccumulation in MRL-lpr mice. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1998;101(2):364-371.
Congenic MRL-lpr mice homozygous and heterozygous for the IFN-gamma gene disruption were created to assess the role of this pleotropic cytokine on the lymphoaccumulation and lupus-like disease of Fas-defective mice. Early death was prevented, and glomerulonephritis severely reduced in IFN-gamma-/- mice. Hypergammaglobulinemia was maintained with a switch from IgG2a to IgG1 predominance, but the dramatic decrease in levels of the dominant IgG2a anti-dsDNA autoantibodies was not associated with a compensatory increase in TH2-associated IgG subclasses. Remarkably, early death and glomerulonephritis were also prevented in IFN-gamma+/- mice, although autoantibody levels and glomerular immune deposits were equivalent to IFN-gamma+/+ lpr mice, indicating the importance of additional locally-exerted disease-promoting effects of IFN-gamma. IFN-gamma-/- mice exhibited reduced lymphadenopathy concomitant to a decrease in DN B220(+) T cells. In vivo BrdU labeling showed reduced proliferation of DN B220(+) cells in IFN-gamma-/- vs. IFN-gamma+/+ lpr mice, while enhanced proliferation of all other T cell subsets was unaffected. Macrophages of IFN-gamma-/-lpr mice expressed markedly decreased levels of MHC class I and II molecules compared with controls. Moreover, the heightened expression of MHC class II molecules on proximal tubules of IFN-gamma+/+ lpr mice was significantly reduced in both IFN-gamma-/- and IFN-gamma+/- mice. The data indicate that IFN-gamma hyperproduction is required for lupus development, presumably by increasing MHC expression and autoantigen presentation to otherwise quiescent nontolerant anti-self T cells, and also by promoting local immune and inflammatory processes.
PMCID: PMC508575  PMID: 9435308
10.  Clinical efficacy of buprenorphine to minimize distress in MRL/lpr mice 
European journal of pharmacology  2007;567(1-2):67-76.
MRL/MpJ-Faslpr (MRL/lpr) mice are an accepted animal model to study human systemic lupus erythematosus. We tested if a commonly used analgesic (buprenorphine hydrochloride) would reduce pain and distress in these mice without impacting the progression of autoimmune disease. Female MRL/lpr mice were randomly separated into four groups. Experimental groups received cyclophosphamide (25 mg/kg i.p. weekly), buprenorphine (0.09 mg/kg/mouse/day via drinking water), or cyclophosphamide + buprenorphine from 11 - 21 weeks of age. Controls received no treatments. Mice were monitored daily by a licensed veterinarian (blinded observer) and assigned a score weekly on parameters associated with pain and distress as well as progression of disease. Proteinuria was measured weekly, and serum anti-dsDNA antibody levels were determined at 11, 15, and 18 weeks of age. At 21 weeks of age, the animals were euthanized and the kidneys and spleens were removed for evaluation. Regardless of the parameter observed, buprenorphine did not significantly decrease distress when compared to the controls. Buprenorphine did not alter the progression of autoimmune disease, based on characteristics of splenic architecture and splenocyte cell profiles, development of lymphadenopathy, or kidney histology as compared to controls. This study indicates that buprenorphine at this dose and route of administration was ineffective in reducing distress associated with disease progression in the MRL/lpr strain. More studies are needed to determine if, at a different dose or route, buprenorphine would be useful as adjunctive therapy in reducing distress in MRL/lpr mice.
PMCID: PMC2570058  PMID: 17490635
Buprenorphine; MRL/lpr; distress; systemic lupus erythematosus; pruritus
11.  Nitric oxide as an inflammatory mediator in autoimmune MRL-lpr/lpr mice. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1998;106(Suppl 5):1131-1137.
Nitric oxide (.NO) may exhibit proinflammatory features. .NO synthase type 2 (NOS2) is overexpressed and .NO overproduced in rodent models of induced inflammation. Blockage of .NO production by administration of NOS inhibitors prevents or reduces various types of induced inflammation in mice and rats. We have shown that autoimmune MRL-lpr/lpr mice overexpress NOS2 and overproduce .NO in an age-dependent fashion that parallels expression of arthritis, glomerulonephritis, and vasculitis. Blocking .NO production by oral administration of the NOS inhibitor NG-monomethyl-L-arginine reduced the arthritis, glomerulonephritis, and vasculitis, but it did not modify serum anti-DNA antibody levels or glomerular deposition of immune complexes. When mice with genetically disrupted NOS2 were backcrossed to MRL-lpr/lpr mice, the resultant (-/-) mice expressed no NOS2 and produced no .NO, the wild-type (+/+) mice overexpressed NOS2 and overproduced .NO (in comparison to normal, control mice), and the heterozygous (+/-) mice expressed and produced intermediate levels. Nephritis and arthritis in the (-/-) mice were comparable to that in MRL-lpr/lpr mice, but vasculitis was markedly decreased. Levels of anti-DNA antibodies were comparable in all mice, but IgG rheumatoid factor production was markedly reduced in the (-/-) mice. These results of studies in MRL-lpr/lpr mice with genetically disrupted NOS2 highlight the heterogeneity and complexity of the role of NOS2 and .NO in inflammation.
PMCID: PMC1533351  PMID: 9788887
12.  Modulation of Lupus Phenotype by Adiponectin Deficiency in Autoimmune Mouse Models 
Journal of clinical immunology  2010;31(2):167-173.
Adiponectin is an adipocyte-derived cytokine with anti-inflammatory properties. Paradoxically, circulating adiponectin levels are increased in a number of inflammatory diseases. Thus, we sought to define the role of adiponectin deficiency in mouse models of autoimmunity. Adiponectin-deficient mice on a C57BL/6 background do not develop an autoimmune phenotype. Autoimmunity was also not observed in adiponectin-deficient mice generated on the permissive MRL background. However, adiponectin deficiency exacerbated the autoimmune phenotype of MRL-lpr mice. Compared with MRL-lpr mice, MRL-lpr.apn−/− mice displayed greater lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly, as well as increased anti-nuclear antibody and anti-dsDNA production. In addition, evaluation of the kidney revealed larger glomerular tuft size, crescent formation, increased IgG and C3 deposits, and mesangial expansion in the MRL-lpr.apn−/− mice. The effects of adiponectin deficiency on the autoimmune phenotypes were more pronounced in female versus male mice. These data show that, while adiponectin deficiency is not sufficient to confer autoimmunity, adiponectin acts as a negative modulator of the autoimmune phenotype in a murine model of lupus.
PMCID: PMC3505060  PMID: 21063900
Adiponectin; lupus; mouse model; inflammation; autoimmunity
13.  Autoimmune Th2-Mediated Dacryoadenitis in MRL/MpJ Mice Becomes Th1-Mediated in IL-4 Deficient MRL/MpJ Mice 
MRL/MpJ mice of substrains MRL/MpJ-fas+/fas+ (MRL/+) and MRL/MpJ-faslpr/faslpr (MRL/lpr) spontaneously develop autoimmune dacryoadenitis and sialadenitis and are a model for the human disorder Sjögren syndrome. The dacryoadenitis in both substrains appears to be Th2 in nature, with little IFN-γ and substantial IL-4 at the site of lacrimal gland inflammation.
MRL/MpJ mice with a defective IL-4 gene—both MRL/+-IL-4tm/IL-4tm (MRL/+/IL-4tm) and MRL/lpr-IL-4tm/IL-4tm (MRL/lpr-IL-4tm)—that resulted in a loss of IL-4 production were bred and evaluated for dacryoadenitis.
MRL/+/IL-4tm and MRL/lpr/IL-4tm mice developed dacryoadenitis of similar onset, appearance, and severity as found in MRL/MpJ mice with an intact IL-4 gene. Immunohistochemistry examination revealed a substantially greater number of inflammatory cells staining for IFN-γ than for IL-13 in the dacryoadenitis of IL-4 – deficient MRL/MpJ mice (MRL/+/IL-4tm, 66% vs. 0.8%, P = 0.001; MRL/lpr/IL-4tm, 67% vs. 1.2%, P = 0.002). Real-time PCR demonstrated greater amounts of IFN-γ than IL-13 mRNA relative transcripts in lacrimal glands of MRL/lpr/IL-4tm mice (mean difference, 28.6; P = 0.035). Greater CD86 (B7–2) than CD80 (B7–1) expression was present in MRL/+/IL-4tm mice (11% vs. 3%, P = 0.003) and MRL/lpr/IL-4tm mice (10% vs. 3%, P = 0.002).
These results suggest that a Th2 autoimmune process can be converted to a Th1 process in the absence of IL-4.
PMCID: PMC2215323  PMID: 18055812
14.  Prevention of Immune Nephritis by the Small Molecular Weight Immunomodulator Iguratimod in MRL/lpr Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108273.
This study was performed to investigate the therapeutic effects of iguratimod in a lupus mouse model.
Female MRL/lpr mice were treated with iguratimod, vehicle solution or cyclophosphamide. Proteinuria was monitored and kidney injury was blindly scored by a renal pathologist. Serum anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies were monitored by radioimmunoassay. Kidney IgG and CD20 were stained by immunohistochemistry. Splenic lymphocyte phenotypes were analyzed by flow cytometry. BAFF, IL-17A, IL-6, and IL-21 levels in serum and splenic lymphocytes were detected by ELISA or quantitative PCR.
Compared with the vehicle-treated controls, MRL/lpr mice treated with iguratimod showed less protenuria, less acute pathological lesions and no chronic changes in the kidneys. There were significant differences in glomerular injury and vasculitis scores, as well as in the semi-quantitave analysis of immune complex deposition between the two groups. Disease activity markers in sera (anti-dsDNA antibodies and immunoglobulin levels) were reduced and hypocomplementemia was attenuated. Lymphocyte expression of BAFF, IL-6, IL-17A and IL-21 was decreased. The abnormal splenic B220+ T cell and plasma cell populations in MRL/lpr mice were reduced by iguratimod treatment, with recovery of the total B cell population and inhibition of B cell infiltration of the kidney tissue. The dosage of iguratimod used in this study showed no significant cytotoxic effects in vivo and no overt side-effects were observed.
Iguratimod ameliorates immune nephritis in MRL/lpr mice via a non-antiproliferative mechanism. Our data suggest a potential therapeutic role of iguratimod in lupus.
PMCID: PMC4182720  PMID: 25271634
15.  Efficient Peripheral Clonal Elimination of B Lymphocytes in MRL/lpr Mice Bearing Autoantibody Transgenes  
Peripheral B cell tolerance was studied in mice of the autoimmune-prone, Fas-deficient MRL/ lpr.H-2d genetic background by introducing a transgene that directs expression of membrane-bound H-2Kb antigen to liver and kidney (MT-Kb) and a second transgene encoding antibody reactive with this antigen (3-83μδ, anti-Kk,b). Control immunoglobulin transgenic (Ig-Tg) MRL/lpr.H-2d mice lacking the Kb antigen had large numbers of splenic and lymph node B cells bearing the transgene-encoded specificity, whereas B cells of the double transgenic (Dbl-Tg) MRL/lpr.H-2d mice were deleted as efficiently as in Dbl-Tg mice of a nonautoimmune B10.D2 genetic background. In spite of the severely restricted peripheral B cell repertoire of the Ig-Tg MRL/lpr.H-2d mice, and notwithstanding deletion of the autospecific B cell population in the Dbl-Tg MRL/lpr.H-2d mice, both types of mice developed lymphoproliferation and exhibited elevated levels of IgG anti-chromatin autoantibodies. Interestingly, Dbl-Tg MRL/lpr.H-2d mice had a shorter lifespan than Ig-Tg MRL/lpr.H-2d mice, apparently as an indirect result of their relative B cell lymphopenia. These data suggest that in MRL/lpr mice peripheral B cell tolerance is not globally defective, but that certain B cells with receptors specific for nuclear antigens are regulated differently than are cells reactive to membrane autoantigens.
PMCID: PMC2213400  PMID: 9730892
B lymphocyte; tolerance; autoantibody; MRL/lpr; systemic lupus erythematosus
16.  Amelioration of human lupus-like phenotypes in MRL/lpr mice by overexpression of interleukin 27 receptor α (WSX-1) 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;67(10):1461-1467.
In the present work, we investigate the role of interleukin (IL)27/IL27 receptor α (Rα) (WSX-1) in the development of autoimmune disorders in the MRL/lpr mouse, which is considered as an experimental model of systemic lupus erythaematosus (SLE) in humans.
We generated two strains of WSX-1 transgenic mice in the MRL/lpr background with different expression levels of WSX-1, and investigated the effect of WSX-1 overexpression on survival, glomerulonephritis and immunological properties.
In comparison with wild type (WT) MRL/lpr and transgenic (Tg) low (TgL) mice, Tg high (TgH) mice exhibited a prolonged lifespan and no apparent development of autoimmune nephritis. Production of anti-dsDNA antibody and total IgG and IgG2a were significantly lower in TgH mice than those of TgL and WT mice. The expressed amounts of interferon (IFN)γ and IL4 mRNA by CD4+ T cells from Tg mice decreased in a dose-dependent fashion. CD4+ splenic lymphocytes in TgH mice were more subject to the IL27-mediated suppression of cytokine production. In vitro stimulation of CD4+ T cells by IL27 resulted in over phosphorylation of STAT3 in TgH cells than in WT cells.
WSX-1 overexpression in the MRL/lpr background rendered the autoimmune prone mice protected from the development of autoimmune diseases. Our results suggest that IL27 signalling may be a therapeutic target against autoimmune diseases, including human SLE.
PMCID: PMC2566534  PMID: 18094002
17.  Peroxynitrite formation and decreased catalase activity in autoimmune MRL-lpr/lpr mice. 
Molecular Medicine  2000;6(9):779-792.
BACKGROUND: (MRL)-lpr/lpr mice spontaneously develop autoimmune disease characterized by arthritis and glomerulonephritis. Nitric oxide is postulated to play a role in the disease pathogenesis, as mice treated with the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (NMMA) show markedly reduced manifestations of the disease. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of peroxynitrite in disease development in MRL-lpr/lpr mice. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We examined kidney extracts from control and MRL-lpr/lpr mice for nitrotyrosine by immunoblot with a rabbit polyclonal anti-nitrotyrosine antibody. Catalase activity was determined spectrophotometrically or by activity staining of native polyacrylamide gels. In some experiments, we studied the ability of peroxynitrite and other agents to modify purified catalase in vitro. RESULTS: Kidney extracts from diseased mice had elevated levels of nitrotyrosine, and decreased levels of catalase activity and protein, relative to control mice. MRL-lpr/lpr mice treated with NMMA in vivo had decreased levels of nitrotyrosine, and demonstrated a partial restoration of both catalase activity and protein levels. Treatment of catalase in vitro with peroxynitrite or tetranitromethane at pH 8.0 resulted in protein nitration and a decrease in catalase activity. 1,3-morpholinosydnonimine (SIN-1), a peroxynitrite generator, also decreased the activity of catalase. CONCLUSIONS: These observations suggest that peroxynitrite formation, with an associated decrease in catalase activity and general decrease in antioxidant enzyme activity, may result in increased levels of hydrogen peroxide and other oxidants that can contribute to the pathogenesis of disease in MRL-lpr/lpr mice.
PMCID: PMC1949981  PMID: 11071272
18.  Roles of interferon-gamma and interleukin-4 in murine lupus. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1997;99(8):1936-1946.
The systemic autoimmune syndrome of MRL/Mp-lpr/lpr (MRL/lpr) mice consists of severe pan-isotype hypergammaglobulinemia, autoantibody production, lymphadenopathy, and immune complex-associated end-organ disease. Its pathogenesis has been largely attributed to helper alphabeta T cells that may require critical cytokines to propagate pathogenic autoantibody production. To investigate the roles of prototypical Th1 and Th2 cytokines in the pathogenesis of murine lupus, IFN-gamma -/- and IL-4 -/- lupus-prone mice were generated by backcrossing cytokine knockout animals against MRL/lpr breeders. IFN-gamma -/- animals produced significantly reduced titers of IgG2a and IgG2b serum immunoglobulins as well as autoantibodies, but maintained comparable levels of IgG1 and IgE in comparison to cytokine-intact controls; in contrast, IL-4 -/- animals produced significantly less IgG1 and IgE serum immunoglobulins, but maintained comparable levels of IgG2a and IgG2b as well as autoantibodies in comparison to controls. Both IFN-gamma -/- and IL-4 -/- mice, however, developed significantly reduced lymphadenopathy and end-organ disease. These results suggest that IFN-gamma and IL-4 play opposing but dispensable roles in the development of lupus-associated hypergammaglobulinemia and autoantibody production; however, they both play prominent roles in the pathogenesis of murine lupus-associated tissue injury, as well as in lpr-induced lymphadenopathy.
PMCID: PMC508018  PMID: 9109438
19.  The benefit of targeted and selective inhibition of the alternative complement pathway for modulating autoimmunity and renal disease in MRL/lpr mice1 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(4):1076-1085.
Complement has both protective and pathogenic functions in lupus due to a balance between its role in the clearance of immune complexes (IC’s) and apoptotic cells versus inflammation. The classical pathway contributes to IC and apoptotic cell clearance, whereas the alternative pathway is a key mediator of renal inflammation. We investigated the effect of a new targeted inhibitor of the alternative pathway, CR2-fH, on lupus-like renal disease in MRL/lpr mice.
Mice were treated with either saline, CR2-fH, CR2-Crry (inhibits all complement pathways) or sCR2 (C3d-binding targeting vehicle). Sera were analyzed every 2 weeks for autoantibodies, circulating ICs and C3. Urinary albumin was also determined, and kidneys collected for histological evaluation at 23 weeks.
CR2-fH and CR2-Crry treatment improved survival and significantly reduced proteinuria, glomerular C3 deposition and circulating IC’s. CR2-fH, but not CR2-Crry, also significantly reduced glomerulonephritis, serum anti-dsDNA antibodiesa, and glomerular IgG and C1q deposition. Interestingly, sCR2 also significantly reduced levels of anti-dsDNA antibodies, circulating IC’s and glomerular deposition of IgG, C1q and C3, although there was no significant reduction in glomerulonephritis, proteinuria or mortality.
Targeted and selective inhibition of the alternative complement pathway is an effective treatment for murine lupus, and is more effective than blockade of all pathways. The data demonstrate benefits to leaving the classical/lectin pathways intact, and indicate distinct roles for the classical and alternative pathways of complement in progression of the disease. The sCR2 targeting vehicle contributes to therapeutic activity, possibly via modulation of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3079315  PMID: 21452327
Complement; lupus; factor H; kidney; autoimmunity
20.  VH gene expression is restricted in anti-IgG antibodies from MRL autoimmune mice 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1986;164(4):1284-1300.
Antibodies directed against IgG and DNA are found in the sera of autoimmune MRL/Mp lpr/lpr mice. Little is known of the molecular mechanisms underlying expression of such autoantibodies. We have investigated the binding diversity and pattern of VH gene expression in a panel of murine anti-IgG antibodies. We constructed eight hybridoma clones secreting IgM antibodies that bound to mouse IgG by using spleen cells from MRL/Mp lpr/lpr mice varying in age from 4 to 15 wk; one clone was derived from a 32-wk-old MRL +/+ mouse. The monoclonal IgM products exhibited varying binding specificities for intact mouse IgG, fragments of mouse IgG [Fc, Fab, (Fab')2], and heterologous IgG. Two of these antibodies crossreacted with B and/or Z DNA. Probes from seven of eight identified mouse VH gene families (7183, S107, Q52, J558, J606, 36-60, and 3609) were hybridized under high-stringency conditions with cytoplasmic RNA blots from each clone. Six clones hybridized only with the probe from the five-member 36-60 family. The remaining three clones crosshybridized with the 36-60 probe and the probe from the 60 member J558 family, perhaps reflecting somatic mutation from the original germline VH gene resulting in recognition by a probe from another family, in addition to the probe from the original germline family. Our results indicate that spontaneous MRL lpr/lpr anti-IgG antibodies are encoded predominantly by the 36-60 VH gene family and imply a nonrandom selection of this VH gene family in the production of these antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2188408  PMID: 3093628
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;43:44-54.
Given the early onset of neuropsychiatric disease and the potential response to immunosuppressive therapy, neuropsychiatric disease is considered a primary disease manifestation in SLE. However, the pathogenesis is not fully understood and optimal treatment has yet to be determined. TWEAK is a TNF family ligand that mediates pleotropic effects through its receptor Fn14, including the stimulation of inflammatory cytokines by astrocytes, endothelial cells, and other non-hematopeotic cell types, and induction of neuronal death. Furthermore, TWEAK-inducible mediators are implicated in neuropsychiatric lupus. Thus, we hypothesized that the TWEAK/Fn14 pathway may be involved in the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric SLE. We generated MRL-lpr/lpr (MRL/lpr) mice deficient for Fn14, the sole known signaling receptor for TWEAK. Neuropsychiatric disease was compared in age- and gender-matched MRL/lpr Fn14 wild type (WT) and knockout (KO) mice, using a comprehensive battery of neurobehavioral tests. We found that MRL/lpr Fn14WT mice displayed profound depression-like behavior as seen by increased immobility in a forced swim test and loss of preference for sweetened fluids, which were significantly ameliorated in Fn14KO mice. Similarly, MRL/lpr Fn14WT mice had impaired cognition, and this was significantly improved in Fn14KO mice. To determine the mechanism by which Fn14 deficiency ameliorates neuropsychiatric disease, we assessed the serum levels of autoantibodies and local expression of cytokines in the cortex and hippocampus of lupus mice. No significant differences were found in the serum levels of antibodies to nuclear antigens, or autoantibodies specifically associated with neuropsychiatric disease, between MRL/lpr Fn14WT and KO mice. However, MRL/lpr Fn14KO mice had significantly decreased brain expression of RANTES, C3, and other proinflammatory mediators. Furthermore, MRL/lpr Fn14KO mice displayed improved blood brain barrier integrity. In conclusion, several central manifestations of neuropsychiatric lupus, including depression-like behavior and altered cognition, are normalized in MRL/lpr mice lacking Fn14. Our results are the first to indicate a role for the TWEAK/Fn14 pathway in the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric lupus, and suggest this ligand-receptor pair as a potential therapeutic target for a common and dangerous disease manifestation.
PMCID: PMC3672366  PMID: 23578591
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); neuropsychiatric lupus; TWEAK; Fn14
22.  Lupus-prone MRLfaslpr/lpr mice display increased AID expression and extensive DNA lesions, comprising deletions and insertions, in the immunoglobulin locus: Concurrent upregulation of somatic hypermutation and class switch DNA recombination 
Autoimmunity  2009;42(2):89-103.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the production of an array of pathogenic autoantibodies, including high-affinity anti-dsDNA IgG antibodies. These autoantibodies are mutated and class-switched, mainly to IgG, indicating that immunoglobulin (Ig) gene somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class switch DNA recombination (CSR) are important in their generation. Lupus-prone MRL/faslpr/lpr mice develop a systemic autoimmune syndrome that shares many features with human SLE. We found that Ig genes were heavily mutated in MRL/faslpr/lpr mice and contained long stretches of DNA deletions and insertions. The spectrum of mutations in MRL/faslpr/lpr B cells was significantly altered, e.g., increased dG/dC transitions, and increased targeting of the RGYW/WRCY mutational hotspot and the WGCW AID-targeting hotspot. We also showed that MRL/faslpr/lpr greatly upregulated CSR, particularly to IgG2a and IgA in B cells of the spleen, lymph nodes and Peyer’s patches. In MRL/faslpr/lpr mice, the significant upregulation of SHM and CSR was associated with significantly increased expression of AID, which mediates DNA lesion, the first step in SHM and CSR, and translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) polymerase (pol) θ, pol η and pol ζ, which are involved in DNA synthesis/repair process associated with SHM and, possibly, CSR. Thus, in lupus-prone mice, SHM and CSR are dysregulated, as a result of enhanced AID expression and, therefore, DNA lesions, and dysregulated DNA repair factors, including TLS polymerases, which are involved in the repair process of AID-mediated DNA lesions.
PMCID: PMC3140875  PMID: 19156553
activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID); antibody; autoantibody; B cell; class switch DNA recombination (CSR); DNA deletion; DNA insertion; lupus; somatic hypermutation (SHM)
23.  Y27, a novel derivative of 4-hydroxyquinoline-3-formamide, prevents the development of murine systemic lupus erythematosus-like diseases in MRL/lpr autoimmune mice and BDF1 hybrid mice 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R235.
Naturally occurring CD4+CD25+ regulatory T (Treg) cells are central to the maintenance of peripheral tolerance. Impaired activity and/or a lower frequency of these cells lead to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Manipulating the number or activity of Treg cells is to be a promising strategy in treating it and other autoimmune diseases. We have examined the effects of Y27, a novel derivative of 4-hydroxyquinoline-3-formamide, on SLE-like symptoms in MRL/lpr autoimmune mice and BDF1 hybrid mice. Whether the beneficial effect of Y27 involves modulation of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells has also been investigated.
Female MRL/lpr mice that spontaneously develop lupus were treated orally by gavage with Y27 for 10 weeks, starting at 10 weeks of age. BDF1 mice developed a chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) by two weekly intravenous injections of parental female DBA/2 splenic lymphocytes, characterized by immunocomplex-mediated glomerulonephritis resembling SLE. Y27 was administered to chronic GVHD mice for 12 weeks. Nephritic symptoms were monitored and the percentage of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Treg peripheral blood leukocyte was detected with mouse regulatory T cell staining kit by flowcytometry. Purified CD4+CD25+ Tregs were assessed for immune suppressive activity using the mixed lymphocyte reaction.
The life-span of MRL/lpr mice treated with Y27 for 10 weeks was significantly prolonged, proteinuria and renal lesion severity were ameliorated, and blood urea nitrogen, triglyceride and serum anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies were decreased. Similar results were found in chronic GVHD mice. Administration of Y27 had little impact on percentage of the peripheral blood lymphocyte CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Treg cells in both groups of mice. In contrast, the suppressive capacity of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells in splenocytes was markedly augmented in Y27-treated mice ex vivo.
Experimental evidence of the protect effects of Y27 against autoimmune nephritis has been shown. The mechanism may involve enhancement of the suppressive capacity of CD4+CD25+ Treg cells.
PMCID: PMC3674632  PMID: 23116248
24.  A Pilot Study of the Therapeutic Efficacy and Mechanism of Artesunate in the MRL/lpr Murine Model of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Recent evidence indicates that artesunate has immunomodulatory properties that might be useful for treating autoimmune disease. In this study, we conducted a pilot study and explored the effect and mechanism of artesunate on the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus using an MRL/lpr murine model. MRL/lpr mice were divided into control, cyclophosphamide (CTX) and artesunate treatment groups. Blood was collected to measure serum levels of creatinine, antinuclear antibody (ANA) and anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody. Twenty-four-hour urine was collected to measure levels of proteinuria. The concentration of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) in serum and urine was measured. The expression of MCP-1 in kidney was detected by Western blot and immunohistochemistry assay, respectively. The expression of B cell activating factor (BAFF) in spleen was determined by real time-PCR and immunoblotting. We found that artesunate significantly increased the survival rate, body weight and blood leukocyte counts, and reduced the serum levels of ANA and anti-dsDNA antibody titer, 24 h urinary protein, and serum creatinine. Our results indicated that artesunate could decrease MCP-1, major pro-inflammation cytokine, in serum, urine and kidney. We also found that the level of BAFF, the major B cell activation factor, was decreased in artesunate treated MRL/lpr mice. Its efficacy was comparable with that of CTX in this study. Taken together, we have demonstrated that artesunate can inhibit the progression of disease and reverse the pathologic lesion of lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC4003040  PMID: 20003822
artesunate; systemic lupus erythematosus; lupus nephritis; MRL/lpr mice
25.  B Cell Depletion with Anti-CD79 mAbs Ameliorates Autoimmune Disease in MRL/lpr Mice1 
MRL/lpr mice develop a spontaneous systemic lupus erythematosus-like autoimmune syndrome due to a dysfunctional Fas receptor, with contributions from other less well-defined genetic loci. The removal of B cells by genetic manipulation not only prevents autoantibody formation, but it also results in substantially reduced T cell activation and kidney inflammation. To determine whether B cell depletion by administration of Abs is effective in lupus mice with an intact immune system and established disease, we screened several B cell-specific mAbs and found that a combination of anti-CD79α and anti-CD79β Abs was most effective at depleting B cells in vivo. Anti-CD79 therapy started at 4–5 mo of age in MRL/lpr mice significantly decreased B cells (B220+CD19+) in peripheral blood, bone marrow, and spleens. Treated mice also had a significant increase in the number of both double-negative T cells and naive CD4+ T cells, and a decreased relative abundance of CD4+ memory cells. Serum anti-chromatin IgG levels were significantly decreased compared with controls, whereas serum anti-dsDNA IgG, total IgG, or total IgM were unaffected. Overall, survival was improved with lower mean skin scores and significantly fewer focal inflammatory infiltrates in submandibular salivary glands and kidneys. Anti-CD79 mAbs show promise as a potential treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus and as a model for B cell depletion in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2865432  PMID: 18713966

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