Journal of autoimmunity vol:20 issue:3 pages:219-26
Activation-induced cell death (AICD) represents a major means of peripheral tolerance induction, eliminating effector cells. NOD mice, a widely used model for autoimmune diabetes, are characterized by high levels of circulating T lymphocytes and by resistance to several apoptosis-inducing signals. The aim of this study was to analyse AICD in peripheral NOD T lymphocytes. First, we demonstrated in an in vitro AICD model that NOD T lymphocytes are more resistant to AICD (64+/-2%) compared to non-autoimmune C57BL/6 T lymphocytes (73+/-2%), but also diabetes-resistant NOR T lymphocytes (76+/-3%, P<0.05). Moreover, both CD4(+)and CD8(+)subsets were affected. Analysis of the cellular and molecular pathways revealed lower caspase 8 levels, a central caspase proximally involved in the AICD-pathway (fluorescence of 258+/-47 in NOD vs. 441+/-16 in NOR and 414+/-61 in C57BL/6 T lymphocytes, P<0.05). Gene expression analysis using real-time RT-PCR additionally revealed low expression of Fas and FasL, the death receptor system activating caspase 8 and contributing to AICD. Additionally, low IL-2 levels, together with high TGFbeta and Bclx-L levels, confirm the presence of a NOD-specific AICD-resistance profile. In conclusion, we present cellular and molecular evidence for disturbed AICD mechanisms in NOD T lymphocytes. This resistance in AICD may contribute to defective tolerance induction to autoantigens in NOD mice.