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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Development of autoimmune exocrinopathy resembling Sjögren's syndrome in estrogen-deficient mice of healthy background.

Although a number of autoimmune diseases are known to develop in postmenopausal women, the mechanisms by which estrogen deficiency influences autoimmune lesions remain unclear. We speculate that antiestrogenic actions might be a potent factor in the formation of pathogenic autoantigens. Previously, we have identified 120-kd alpha-fodrin as an important autoantigen in Sjögren's syndrome (SS). When healthy C57BL/6 (B6) mice were treated with an ovariectomy (Ovx), we found a significant increase in TUNEL(+)-apoptotic epithelial cells in the salivary gland cells associated with alpha-fodrin cleavage during 2 and 3 weeks after Ovx. By contrast, no apoptotic cells were found in estrogen receptor-alpha knockout mice. In in vitro studies using primary cultured mouse salivary gland cells and human salivary gland cells, we found a cleavage product of 120-kd alpha-fodrin in cells that had undergone tamoxifen (Tam)- induced apoptosis through caspase activation, especially caspase-1. Adoptive transfer of alpha-fodrin-reactive T cells into Ovx-B6 and -SCID mice resulted in the development of autoimmune exocrinopathy quite similar to SS. These results suggest that estrogen deficiency exerts a crucial influence on autoantigen cleavage, and may cause, in part, autoimmune exocrinopathy in postmenopausal women.[1]


  1. Development of autoimmune exocrinopathy resembling Sjögren's syndrome in estrogen-deficient mice of healthy background. Ishimaru, N., Arakaki, R., Watanabe, M., Kobayashi, M., Miyazaki, K., Hayashi, Y. Am. J. Pathol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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