Background: Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) induces apoptosis of tumor cells but not normal cells; its role in normal non-transformed tissues is unknown.
Objective: To evaluate the role of apoptosis mediated by TRAIL and TRAIL-receptor (TRAIL-R) system in lymphocytic sialadenitis in patients with Sjögren's syndrome.
Methods: The expression of TRAIL and TRAIL-R1, 2, 3 and 4 in lymphocytic sialadenitis was examined by immunoperoxidase staining in patients with Sjögren's syndrome and in normal subjects. To elucidate the mechanism of de novo expression of TRAIL-R1 antigen, we quantitatively investigated its induction by cytokines in human salivary duct cell line (HSG) by cell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In human salivary duct cells stimulated by cytokines, we investigated the induction of apoptotic cell death by recombinant TRAIL protein.
Results: In patients with massive mononuclear cell infiltration, some infiltrating cells showed TRAIL. In patients with severe lymphocytic sialadenitis, TRAIL-R1, TRAIL-R2, or both were strongly expressed on the ductal epithelial cells. Neither TRAIL-R3 nor R4 were observed on ductal epithelium. In contrast, TRAIL-R1 and R2 were not found in the minor salivary glands of normal subjects or patients with mild lymphocytic sialadenitis. Unstimulated HSG cells did not express TRAIL-R1. Interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) consistently upregulated levels of TRAIL-R1. In contrast, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin 1-beta (IL-1 beta), IL-2, and IL-4 had no effect on TRAIL-R1 levels. HSG cells expressing TRAIL-R1 in response to IFN-gamma were susceptible to apoptosis by recombinant TRAIL protein.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that TRAIL and TRAIL-R system may play a role in the pathogenesis of lymphocytic sialadenitis in patients with Sjögren's syndrome.