Abnormal overexpression of CXCL13 is observed in many inflamed tissues and in particular in autoimmune diseases. Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a neuromuscular disease mainly mediated by anti-acetylcholine receptor autoantibodies. Thymic hyperplasia characterized by ectopic germinal centers (GCs) is a common feature in MG and is correlated with high levels of anti-AChR antibodies. We previously showed that the B-cell chemoattractant, CXCL13 is overexpressed by thymic epithelial cells in MG patients. We hypothesized that abnormal CXCL13 expression by the thymic epithelium triggered B-cell recruitment in MG. We therefore created a novel transgenic (Tg) mouse with a keratin 5 driven CXCL13 expression. The thymus of Tg mice overexpressed CXCL13 but did not trigger B-cell recruitment. However, in inflammatory conditions, induced by Poly(I:C), B cells strongly migrated to the thymus. Tg mice were also more susceptible to experimental autoimmune MG (EAMG) with stronger clinical signs, higher titers of anti-AChR antibodies, increased thymic B cells, and the development of germinal center-like structures. Consequently, this mouse model finally mimics the thymic pathology observed in human MG. Our data also demonstrated that inflammation is mandatory to reveal CXCL13 ability to recruit B cells and to induce tertiary lymphoid organ development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the "Agence Nationale de la Recherche" (ANR-06-MRAR-001-01), from the European Community (MYASTAID/LSHM-CT-2006-037833 and FIGHT-MG/HEALTH-2009-242-210) and from the "Association Fran?aise contre les Myopathies" (AFM).
- B cells
- Immune response
- Immunology and microbiology section