Approximately 80% of female wild-type non-obese diabetic (WT NOD) mice spontaneously develop diabetes, whereas B-cell-deficient (B(-/-)) NOD mice are resistant to diabetes. B(-/-) mice are also resistant to other spontaneous and experimentally induced autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome and thyroiditis. Under normal conditions, activation of self-reactive T cells in the periphery is limited by CD4(+) CD25(+) natural regulatory T (Treg) cells. B(-/-) NOD.H-2h4 mice, normally resistant to spontaneous autoimmune thyroiditis (SAT), develop SAT when Treg cells are depleted, suggesting that Treg cells are preferentially activated when autoantigen is initially presented by non-B-cell antigen-presenting cells. To test the hypothesis that increased Treg cell activity in B(-/-) mice contributes to their resistance to other autoimmune diseases, WT and B(-/-) NOD mice were given anti-CD25 to transiently deplete CD4(+) CD25(+) Treg cells. The WT and B(-/-) NOD mice given anti-CD25 developed diabetes much earlier than WT mice given rat IgG, whereas rat IgG-treated B(-/-) mice did not develop diabetes. Treg-cell-depleted mice had increased lymphocyte infiltration of the pancreas, salivary glands and thyroid compared with controls given rat IgG. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that resistance of B-cell-deficient NOD mice to several autoimmune diseases is due to the activity of Treg cells.
© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.