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Keywords:

  • Autoantibodies;
  • Autoimmunity;
  • Chemokines

Abstract

Development of autoimmunity is a multi-factorial process involving genetic predisposition as well as environmental and stochastic factors. Although the mechanisms responsible for the initiation of autoimmunity remain only partially understood, several studies have demonstrated that genetic predisposition plays a major role in this process. In the present study, we analyzed the influence of CCR7 signaling in the development of autoimmunity, because this chemokine receptor is essentially involved in the functional organization of thymus architecture. We demonstrate that CCR7-deficient mice are prone to develop generalized multi-organ autoimmunity. The autoimmune phenotype of CCR7–/– mice encompasses the presence of lymphocyte infiltrates in several peripheral organs, circulating autoantibodies against a multitude of tissue-specific antigens and IgG deposition on renal glomeruli. Additionally, CCR7-deficient mice show increased susceptibility to streptozotocin-induced diabetes and spontaneously display signs of chronic autoimmune renal disease. Thus, this study identifies CCR7 as a genetic factor involved in the regulation of autoimmunity.