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J Immunol. 2002 Mar 15;168(6):3088-98.

Murine sclerodermatous graft-versus-host disease, a model for human scleroderma: cutaneous cytokines, chemokines, and immune cell activation.

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Department of Dermatology, Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Murine sclerodermatous graft-vs-host disease (Scl GVHD) models human scleroderma, with prominent skin thickening, lung fibrosis, and up-regulation of cutaneous collagen mRNA. Fibrosis in Scl GVHD may be driven by infiltrating TGF-beta1-producing mononuclear cells. Here we characterize the origin and types of those cutaneous effector cells, the cytokine and chemokine environments, and the effects of anti-TGF-beta Ab on skin fibrosis, immune cell activation markers, and collagen and cytokine synthesis. Donor cells infiltrating skin in Scl GVHD increase significantly at early time points post-transplantation and are detectable by PCR analysis of Y-chromosome sequences when female mice are transplanted with male cells. Cutaneous monocyte/macrophages and T cells are the most numerous cells in Scl GVHD compared with syngeneic controls. These immune cells up-regulate activation markers (MHC class II I-A(d) molecules and class A scavenger receptors), suggesting Ag presentation by cutaneous macrophages in early fibrosing disease. Early elevated cutaneous mRNA expression of TGF-beta1, but not TGF-beta2 or TGF-beta3, and elevated C-C chemokines macrophage chemoattractant protein-1, macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha, and RANTES precede subsequent skin and lung fibrosis. Therefore, TGF-beta1-producing donor mononuclear cells may be critical effector cells, and C-C chemokines may play important roles in the initiation of Scl GVHD. Abs to TGF-beta prevent Scl GVHD by effectively blocking the influx of monocyte/macrophages and T cells into skin and by abrogating up-regulation of TGF-beta1, thereby preventing new collagen synthesis. The Scl GVHD model is valuable for testing new interventions in early fibrosing diseases, and chemokines may be new potential targets in scleroderma.

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