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J Immunol. 2004 Oct 15;173(8):5283-9.

Expansion of bone marrow IFN-alpha-producing dendritic cells in New Zealand Black (NZB) mice: high level expression of TLR9 and secretion of IFN-alpha in NZB bone marrow.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology/Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus have elevated IFN-alpha production. Furthermore, sera IFN-alpha levels correlate with disease activity. We have focused our attention on whether this phenotype is also seen in the New Zealand Black (NZB) mice and simultaneously addressed the underlying mechanisms. Specifically, we analyzed: 1) levels of sera IFN-alpha after type A CpG ODN 2216 injection in autoimmunity-prone NZB and control mice, and 2) levels of IFN-alpha synthesized by IFN-alpha-producing dendritic cells (IPDCs) using highly enriched populations of CD11c+B220+ IPDCs derived from NZB and control mice; IPDCs are divided into two subpopulations (CD4+CD11c+B220+ and CD4-CD11c+B220+). Our data demonstrate that NZB mice produced higher levels of sera IFN-alpha after type A CpG ODN 2216 injection when compared with control mice (p < 0.01). In addition, the cell numbers, frequency, and TLR9 mRNA levels of CD4+ and CD4- IPDC were markedly increased in the bone marrow (BM) of NZB mice. Upon in vitro stimulation with TLR9 ligand-CpG ODN 2216, higher levels of IFN-alpha were synthesized by IPDCs from the BM of NZB. The major contributor of IFN-alpha was the CD4-CD11c+B220+ IPDC subpopulation. Furthermore, NZB BM IPDCs manifest impaired expression of homing chemokine CCR7 and CD62L, and IL-12 production. These data on the functional characteristics of the IPDC lineages explain in part the mechanism of hyper-IFN-alpha production and help clarify the mechanism for the expansion of NZB BM IPDCs.

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