Immunoregulatory role of nitric oxide in Kilham rat virus-induced autoimmune diabetes in DR-BB rats

Israel I Mendez, Young-Hwa Chung, Hee-Sook Jun, Ji-Won Yoon
Journal of Immunology 2004 July 15, 173 (2): 1327-35
Macrophages play a critical role in the pathogenesis of Kilham rat virus (KRV)-induced autoimmune diabetes in diabetes-resistant BioBreeding (DR-BB) rats. This investigation was initiated to determine the role of macrophage-derived soluble mediators, particularly NO, in the pathogenesis of KRV-induced diabetes in DR-BB rats. We found that the expression of inducible NO synthase (iNOS), an enzyme responsible for NO production, was significantly increased during the early phase of KRV infection. Inhibition of iNOS by aminoguanidine (AG) treatment resulted in the prevention of diabetes in KRV-infected animals. The expression of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, and IL-12 was significantly decreased in the spleen of AG-treated, KRV-infected DR-BB rats compared with PBS-treated, KRV-infected control rats. Subsequent experiments revealed that AG treatment exerted its preventive effect in KRV-infected rats by maintaining the finely tuned immune balance normally disrupted by KRV, evidenced by a significant decrease in the expression of IFN-gamma, but not IL-4, and a decrease in Th1-type chemokine receptors CCR5, CXCR3, and CXCR4. We also found that iNOS inhibition by AG decreased the KRV-induced expression of MHC class II molecules and IL-2R alpha-chain, resulting in the suppression of T cell activation, evidenced by the decreased cytolytic activity of CD8(+) T cells. We conclude that NO plays a critical immunoregulatory role by up-regulating macrophage-derived proinflammatory cytokines, up-regulating the Th1 immune response, and activating T cells, leading to type 1 diabetes after KRV infection, whereas suppression of NO production by AG treatment prevents KRV-induced autoimmune diabetes in DR-BB rats.

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