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Int Immunol. 2005 Sep;17(9):1157-65. Epub 2005 Jul 18.

Stat4-null non-obese diabetic mice: protection from diabetes and experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, but with concomitant epitope spread.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases and Transplantation Biology Group, Medical Research Council, Clinical Sciences Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 ONN, UK.


There is much interest in therapeutic manipulation of cytokine responses in autoimmunity, yet studies in mouse models have sometimes produced conflicting findings as to the role of particular mediators in disease. Examples include the contradictory findings regarding susceptibility to experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) or diabetes in knockout mice for various individual Th1 or Th2 cytokines or their receptors. An alternative approach to the analysis of Th1 and Th2 mechanisms in these diseases is to investigate strains carrying a null mutation for molecules involved in cytokine receptor signal transduction, signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat4) and Stat6. Stat4 is pivotal in Th1 polarization, being activated when IL-12 binds the IL-12R and leading to the production of IFNgamma. We here report disease susceptibility in non-obese diabetic mice carrying a Stat4-null mutation. Knockout mice were almost completely protected from diabetes, only rarely showing pancreatic peri-islet infiltrates. Furthermore, there was near complete protection from the induction of EAE by either of the two encephalitogenic myelin epitopes. Despite this protection, Stat4-null mice showed clear epitope spread compared with controls during myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein-induced EAE as judged by T cell proliferation, although this was not associated with a strong Th1 response to the initial or spread epitope and, furthermore, there was no evidence of a switch to Th2 cytokines.

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