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Nat Immunol. 2003 Mar;4(3):255-60. Epub 2003 Feb 10.

Defective thymocyte apoptosis and accelerated autoimmune diseases in TRAIL-/- mice.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


TRAIL, the tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, selectively induces apoptosis of tumor cells, but not most normal cells. Its role in normal, nontransformed tissues is not clear. We report here that mice deficient in TRAIL have a severe defect in thymocyte apoptosis-thus, thymic deletion induced by T cell receptor ligation is severely impaired. TRAIL-deficient mice are also hypersensitive to collagen-induced arthritis and streptozotocin-induced diabetes and develop heightened autoimmune responses. Thus, TRAIL mediates thymocyte apoptosis and is important in the induction of autoimmune diseases.

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