IFN-γ, IL-21, and IL-10 co-expression in evolving autoimmune vitiligo lesions of Smyth line chickens

J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Mar;132(3 Pt 1):642-9. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.377. Epub 2011 Nov 24.


The Smyth line (SL) of chicken is an excellent animal model for human autoimmune vitiligo. In SL vitiligo (SLV), postnatal loss of melanocytes in feathers appears to be due to cell-mediated immunity. In this study, leukocyte infiltration and associated expression (RNA) of immune function-related cytokines in growing feathers were investigated throughout SLV development and progression. Both leukocyte infiltration and cytokine expression levels started to increase near visible SLV onset (early SLV), reached peak levels during active SLV, and decreased to near pre-vitiligo levels after complete loss of melanocytes. Specifically, significant increases were noticed in relative proportions of T cells, B cells, and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II-expressing cells during active SLV. Levels of T-cell infiltration were higher than those of B cells, with more CD8+ than CD4+ cells throughout SLV. Elevated leukocyte infiltration in early and active SLV was accompanied by increased levels of cytokine expression, especially in IFN-γ, IL-10, and IL-21. Low expression of IL-4 and IL-17 did not suggest important roles of Th2 and Th17 cells in SLV pathogenesis. Taken together, SLV appears to be a Th1-polarized autoimmune disease, whereby IFN-γ expression is strongly associated with parallel increases in IL-10 and IL-21, particularly during early and active stages of SLV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Chickens / genetics
  • Chickens / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Feathers / immunology
  • Feathers / metabolism
  • Genes, MHC Class II / immunology
  • Haplotypes
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-10 / immunology
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / immunology
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukins / immunology
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Vitiligo / genetics
  • Vitiligo / immunology*


  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukins
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma
  • interleukin-21