Activated CD4+ T cells and inflammatory cytokines are implicated in the pathogenesis of experimental autoimmune gastritis. However, there is a paucity of information about the cells that induce them. Antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs) play a cardinal role in the formation and survival of activated lymphocytes.
Materials and methods
Autoimmune gastritis was induced in neonatal BALB/c mice by thymectomy. DCs were detected in situ in the gastric mucosa from thymectomized mice and in patients with autoimmune gastritis, by immunohistochemistry and immunoelectron microscopy. The expression of MHC class II and CD86 antigens on DCs in the gastric mucosa and spleen was evaluated in dual-colour flow cytometry.
DCs were detected in the gastric mucosa of mice with autoimmune gastritis, and the number of DCs increased as the levels of gastritis became more severe as time passed following thymectomy. Flow cytometric analyses revealed that more than 60% of the DCs in the gastric mucosa had a mature phenotype (expressed MHC class II and/or CD86 antigens) both at 4 and 16 weeks after thymectomy. Activated and mature DCs were localized in the gastric mucosa from patients with autoimmune gastritis.
This is the first report on the localization and phenotypes of DCs in the gastric mucosa of autoimmune gastritis. The presence of mature DCs in the gastric mucosa of murine and human autoimmune gastritis, in spite of their absence in the gastric mucosa of normal mice, suggests that mature DCs play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune gastritis.