Sjögren's syndrome is a complex autoimmune disorder, that occurs almost exclusively in females, induces extensive lymphocyte accumulation in lacrimal and salivary glands, and represents one of the leading causes of dry eye and mouth in the world. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the profound, gender-related differences observed in the magnitude of exocrine gland inflammation in Sjögren's syndrome may also be found in tissues of mouse models of this disorder. Lacrimal and submandibular glands were obtained from adult MRL/lpr, MRL+/+ (MRL+), NZB/NZW F1 (F1), C3H/lpr, C3H/gld (gld), C57BL/6-lpr/lpr [B6/lpr; with (bcl-2(+)/lpr) or without (bcl-2(-)/lpr) bcl-2 transgene insertion] and nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice after the onset of autoimmune disease, and processed for microscopy and image analysis. Our results showed that: (1) the extent of inflammation was significantly greater in lacrimal glands of female MRL/lpr, MRL+, F1, C3H/lpr and gld mice, and salivary glands of female MRL+, F1 and gld mice, relative to those of males; (2) the severity of inflammation in NOD mice showed a tissue-specific pattern: inflammation was far worse in lacrimal glands of males, whereas immune pathology was far greater in salivary tissues in females; and (3) no gender-related variations were present in the degree of inflammation in lacrimal glands of bcl-2(+)/lpr and bcl-2(-)/lpr mice or in submandibular tissues of MRL/lpr, C3H/lpr, bcl-2(+)/lpr and bcl-2(-)/lpr mice. Our findings demonstrate that gender-, strain- and tissue-related differences exist in the extent of inflammation in several mouse models of Sjögren's syndrome.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.