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Diabetes. 2010 Oct;59(10):2549-57. doi: 10.2337/db10-0480. Epub 2010 Jul 9.

Roles of Bcl-3 in the pathogenesis of murine type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



It has long been recognized that autoimmunity is often associated with immunodeficiency. The mechanism underlying this paradox is not well understood. Bcl-3 (B-cell lymphoma 3) is an atypical member of the IκB (inhibitor of the nuclear factor-κB) family that is required for lymphoid organogenesis and germinal center responses. Mice deficient in Bcl-3 are immunodeficient because of the microarchitectural defects of their lymphoid organs. The goal of this study is to define the potential roles of Bcl-3 in type 1 diabetes.


Bcl-3-deficient NOD mice were generated by backcrossing Bcl-3-deficient C57BL/6 mice to NOD mice. Spontaneous and induced type 1 diabetes were studied in these mice by both pathologic and immunologic means. The effect of Bcl-3 on inflammatory gene transcription was evaluated in a promoter reporter assay.


We found that Bcl-3-deficient NOD and C57BL/6 mice were, paradoxically, more susceptible to autoimmune diabetes than wild-type mice. The increase in diabetes susceptibility was caused by Bcl-3 deficiency in hematopoietic cells but not nonhematopoietic cells. Bcl-3 deficiency did not significantly affect anti-islet Th1 or Th2 autoimmune responses, but markedly increased inflammatory chemokine and T helper 17 (Th17)-type cytokine expression. Upon transfection, Bcl-3 significantly inhibited the promoter activities of inflammatory chemokine and cytokine genes.


These results indicate that in addition to mediating lymphoid organogenesis, Bcl-3 prevents autoimmune diabetes by inhibiting inflammatory chemokine and cytokine gene transcription. Thus, a single Bcl3 gene mutation leads to both autoimmunity and immunodeficiency.

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