The immunopathogenesis of autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) is poorly understood. Here, we have used MRL/MpJ mice, a model of spontaneous AIP, to address the role of cellular autoimmune processes in the initiation and progression of the disease. Therefore, different T cell subpopulations were adoptively transferred from sick to still healthy (but susceptible) MRL/MpJ mice. Unpurified splenocytes and CD3+ T cells both efficiently induced AIP, while CD4+ and CD8+ T cells alone, as well as splenocytes from healthy mice, were insufficient to trigger the disease. Strikingly, CD4+CD44high memory T cells, although transferred at lower numbers than other T cells, also induced AIP in recipient mice. Employing a modified experimental design, we also evaluated the effects of regulatory T cells (Tregs) on the progression of AIP in already diseased mice. Under the given experimental conditions, there was no significant suppressive effect of adoptively transferred Tregs on pancreatic histopathology. The results of our studies suggest a key role of T cell-mediated processes in murine AIP. The effects of CD4+CD44high memory T cells are in accordance with genetic studies of our group, which had previously implicated this cell type into the pathogenesis of AIP. In follow-up studies, we will focus on the interplay of cellular and humoral autoimmunity in the context of AIP.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)