Functional IKK/NF-κB signaling in pancreatic stellate cells is essential to prevent autoimmune pancreatitis

Commun Biol. 2022 May 27;5(1):509. doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-03371-3.


Pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) are resident cells in the exocrine pancreas which contribute to pancreatic fibrogenesis and inflammation. Studies on NF-κB in pancreatitis so far focused mainly on the parenchymal and myeloid compartments. Here we show a protective immunomodulatory function of NF-κB in PSCs. Conditional deletion of NEMO (IKKγ) in PSCs leads to spontaneous pancreatitis with elevated circulating IgM, IgG and antinuclear autoantibodies (ANA) within 18 weeks. When further challenged with caerulein, NEMOΔCol1a2 mice show an exacerbated autoimmune phenotype characterized by increased infiltration of eosinophils, B and T lymphocytes with reduced latency period. Transcriptomic profiling shows that NEMOΔCol1a2 mice display molecular signatures resembling autoimmune pancreatitis patients. Mechanistically, we show that PSCΔNEMO cells produce high levels of CCL24 ex vivo which contributes to eosinophil recruitment, as neutralization with a CCL24 antibody abolishes the transwell migration of eosinophils. Our findings uncover an unexpected immunomodulatory role specifically of NF-κB in PSCs during pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Pancreatitis*
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Kinase / genetics
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • Pancreatic Stellate Cells
  • Pancreatitis* / prevention & control


  • NF-kappa B
  • I-kappa B Kinase