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Int Immunol. 2010 Jun;22(6):443-52. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxq026. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

PD-1 deficiency results in the development of fatal myocarditis in MRL mice.

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Department of Immunology and Genomic Medicine, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Konoe, Sakyo-ku, Japan.


The deficiency of programmed cell death 1 (PD-1, Pdcd1), a negative immuno-receptor belonging to the CD28/cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) family, can support various tissue-specific autoimmune conditions. Here, we analyzed the effect of PD-1 deficiency in MRL mice that is genetically predisposed to systemic autoimmunity. MRL-Pdcd1(-)(/-) mice developed a fatal myocarditis, which is reminiscent of CTLA-4-deficient (Ctla4(-)(/-)) mice. Massive infiltration of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells and myeloid cells was found in hearts of MRL-Pdcd1(-)(/-) mice concomitant with the production of high-titer auto-antibodies against cardiac myosin. In contrast to Ctla4(-)(/-) mice in which most of the CD4(+) T cells are non-specifically activated and invade various organs, T cells in the heart but not in the spleen and lymph nodes are activated in MRL-Pdcd1(-)(/-) mice, suggesting that myocarditis is mediated by antigen-specific autoimmune response. Heart infiltrating myeloid cells strongly suppressed the allogenic response of T cells in vitro, suggesting that these Mac1(+)Gr1(+) myeloid cells are phenotypically similar to myeloid suppressor cells, which can be found in tumor-bearing hosts. These findings unravel the hidden heart-specific autoimmune predisposition of MRL mice and provide MRL-Pdcd1(-)(/-) mice as a useful animal model of lymphocytic myocarditis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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