Elevated IL-7 in the target tissues is closely associated with multiple autoimmune disorders, including Sjögren's syndrome (SS). We recently found that IL-7 plays an essential role in the development and onset of primary SS (pSS) in C57BL/6.NOD-Aec1Aec2 mice, a well-defined mouse model of primary SS. However, environmental signals that cause excessive IL-7 production are not well-characterized. Innate immune signaling plays a critical role in shaping the adaptive immune responses including autoimmune responses. We and others have previously shown that innate immune signaling can induce IL-7 expression in lungs and intestines of C57BL/6 mice. In this study, we characterized the effects of poly I:C, a double-stranded RNA analog and toll-like receptor 3 agonist, on the induction of IL-7 expression in salivary glands and on pSS development. We showed that poly I:C administration to C57BL/6 mice rapidly induced IL-7 expression in the salivary glands in a type 1 IFN- and IFN-γ-dependent manner. Moreover, poly I:C-induced IL-7 contributed to the optimal up-regulation of CXCL9 in the salivary glands, which may subsequently promote recruitment of more IFN-γ-producing T cells. Repeated administration of poly I:C to C57BL/6.NOD-Aec1Aec2 mice accelerated the development of SS-like exocrinopathy, and this effect was abolished by the blockade of IL-7 receptor signaling with a neutralizing antibody. Finally, poly I:C or a combination of IFN-α and IFN-γ induced IL-7 gene expression and protein production in a human salivary gland epithelial cell line. Hence, we demonstrate that IL-7 expression in the salivary gland cells can be induced by poly I:C and delineate a crucial mechanism by which innate immune signals facilitate the development of pSS, which is through induction of IL-7 in the target tissues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)