Gene-gun biolistic immunization encoding glutamic acid decarboxylase: a model for studying Langerhans cell abnormalities and mimicry in the nonobese diabetic mouse

Béatrice Joussemet, Anh-Tuan Vu, Pierre Sai, Jean-Marie Bach
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2005, 1051: 613-25
Plasmid-DNA gene-gun immunization may be an efficient approach for investigating the role of skin dendritic cells (DCs) in type 1 diabetes (T1D) pathogenesis and the significance of the presentation of peptides that mimic autoantigenic epitopes in aggravating or modulating the autoimmune reaction. Gene-gun immunization has been described as producing long-lasting immune responses elicited by skin DCs, especially Langerhans cells (LCs). Therefore, we tested the immune response and diabetes modulation in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice and in control BALB/c mice, by gene-gun administration of plasmid-DNA encoding (1) human 65 kDa glutamic acid decarboxylase (hGAD65) mimicking the crucial mouse autoantigen GAD65 (similarity of 95.7%) or (2) beta-galactosidase (betaGAL) as a negative control. Expression of GAD and betaGAL in skin of pc-GAD- and pc-LacZ-injected mice, respectively, was confirmed. It was surprising that both pc-LacZ-injected BALB/c and NOD mice exhibited a betaGAL-specific Th1 immune response: spleen cells of pc-LacZ mice proliferated specifically to betaGAL (P < 10(-4)) and secreted significant amounts of IFNgamma (P < 10(-4)). pc-LacZ mice also developed a betaGAL-specific Th1-related (IgG2a/2c) and Th2-related (IgG1) humoral response. Although pc-GAD BALB/c mice showed Th2-related GAD-specific IgG1 production and a significant secretion of IL4 (P < .03), pc-GAD NOD mice did not generate either an antibody response or a T cell response specific to GAD. Moreover, gene-gun immunization encoding hGAD65 did not clearly modulate diabetes onset in NOD mice. This absence of detectable GAD-specific response may implicate skin DC deficiencies in NOD mice. The gene-gun technique could thus provide an interesting model for studying skin DC abnormalities in NOD mice and their potential implication of presenting mimetic peptides that modulate the autoimmune response in T1D.

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