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Tracking Early Autoimmune Disease by Bioluminescent Imaging of NF-κB Activation Reveals Pathology in Multiple Organ Systems

By Michael Zangani, Harald Carlsen, Anders Kielland, Audun Os, Harald Hauglin, Rune Blomhoff, Ludvig A. Munthe and Bjarne Bogen


It is desirable to have an early and sensitive detection marker of autoimmune disease in intact animals. Nuclear factor (NF)-κB is a transcription factor that is associated with inflammatory responses and immune disorders. Previously, we demonstrated that so-called idiotypic-driven T–B cell collaboration in mice doubly transgenic for paired immunoglobulin and T cell receptor transgenes resulted in a systemic autoimmune disease with systemic lupus erythematosus-like features. Here, we investigated NF-κB activation by including an NF-κB-responsive luciferase reporter transgene in this animal model. Triply transgenic mice developed bioluminescence signals from diseased organs before onset of clinical symptoms and autoantibody production, and light emissions correlated with disease progression. Signals were obtained from secondary lymphoid organs, inflamed intestines, skin lesions, and arthritic joints. Moreover, bioluminescence imaging and immunohistochemistry demonstrated that a minority of mice suffered from an autoimmune disease of the small intestine, in which light emissions correlated with antibodies against tissue transglutaminase and gliadin. Detection of luciferase by immunohistochemistry revealed NF-κB activation in collaborating B and T cells, as well as in macrophages. These results demonstrate that bioluminescent in vivo imaging of NF-κB activation can be used for early and sensitive detection of autoimmune disease in an experimental mouse model, offering new possibilities for the evaluation of anti-inflammatory drugs

Topics: Regular Articles
Publisher: American Society for Investigative Pathology
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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