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Gastroenterology. 2012 Nov;143(5):1361-74. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.07.112. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Lymphotoxin β receptor signaling promotes development of autoimmune pancreatitis.

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  • 1Institute of Neuropathology, Zurich, Switzerland.



Little is known about the pathogenic mechanisms of autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP), an increasingly recognized, immune-mediated form of chronic pancreatitis. Current treatment options are limited and disease relapse is frequent. We investigated factors that contribute to the development of AIP and new therapeutic strategies.


We used quantitative polymerase chain reaction, immunohistochemical, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent analyses to measure the expression of cytokines and chemokines in tissue and serum samples from patients with and without AIP. We created a mouse model of human AIP by overexpressing lymphotoxin (LT)α and β specifically in acinar cells (Ela1-LTab mice).


Messenger RNA levels of LTα and β were increased in pancreatic tissues from patients with AIP, compared with controls, and expression of chemokines (CXCL13, CCL19, CCL21, CCL1, and B-cell-activating factor) was increased in pancreatic and serum samples from patients. Up-regulation of these factors was not affected by corticosteroid treatment. Acinar-specific overexpression of LTαβ (Ela1-LTαβ) in mice led to an autoimmune disorder with various features of AIP. Chronic inflammation developed only in the pancreas but was sufficient to cause systemic autoimmunity. Acinar-specific overexpression of LTαβ did not cause autoimmunity in mice without lymphocytes (Ela1-LTab/Rag1(-/-)); moreover, lack of proinflammatory monocytes (Ela1-LTab/Ccr2(-/-)) failed to prevent AIP but prevented early pancreatic tissue damage. Administration of corticosteroids reduced pancreatitis but did not affect production of autoantibodies, such as antipancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor in Ela1-LTab mice. In contrast, inhibition of LTβR signaling reduced chemokine expression, renal immune-complex deposition, and features of AIP in Ela1-LTab mice.


Overexpression of LTαβ specifically in acinar cells of mice causes features of AIP. Reagents that neutralize LTβR ligands might be used to treat patients with AIP.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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