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Brain Behav Immun. 1996 Dec;10(4):337-50.

Disturbed immunoendocrine communication via the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in murine lupus.

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  • 1Institute for General and Experimental Pathology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, A-6020, Austria.


Immune reactions and mitogen stimulation of mammals and chickens lead to an increase of glucocorticoid (GC) plasma levels concomitant with the immune response. Interleukin (IL) 1, one of the most important glucocorticoid increasing factors produced by cells of the immune system, acts via the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This pattern of immunoendocrine feedback communication is altered in autoimmune disease (AID) and represents a possible site of action for GC therapy. In the present study we investigated the role and possible underlying mechanisms of a disturbed immunoendocrine communication via the HPA axis in murine lupus. We analyzed the response to recombinant human (rhu) IL-1alpha in AID-prone mice [NZB, NZW, (NZB/NZW)F1, MRL/MP-lpr] in comparison to nonautoimmune, normal control mice (Swiss, C3H/HeJ, MRL/MP-+/+) at different levels of the HPA axis. To this end, we quantified the plasma levels of ACTH, corticosterone, and corticosterone-binding globulin (CBG) and determined various pathology parameters for autoimmunity. AID-prone mice produced nearly the same levels of plasma corticosterone after injection of rhu IL-1alpha as normal mice, but had baseline corticosterone levels consistently higher, thus resulting in significantly lower corticosterone increasing ratios. ACTH levels increased after rhu IL-1alpha injection, but there was no clearcut difference in the increasing ratios of AID-prone and normal strains. CBG levels showed no difference. As expected, there was a correlation of pathology parameters for autoimmunity and the altered immunomodulatory response to rhu IL-1alpha per group. On an individual basis, there was no such correlation. In conclusion, our results confirm the existence of a disturbed immunoendocrine communication in AID-prone mice. This disturbance clearly differs from individual to individual and also among different types of AID.

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