Neutrophil apoptosis in autoimmune fas-defective MRL lpr/lpr mice

E. Del Giudice, A. Ciaramella, N. Balestro, D. Neumann, P. G. Romano, M. P. Cesaroni, G. Maurizi, P. Ruggiero, D. Boraschi, P. Bossù

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The apoptosis-defective lpr (fas) mutation in MRL mice causes the early onset of a lupus-like autoimmune disease with concomitant inflammation. In order to analyse the consequences of the impaired Fas-dependent apoptosis on inflammation, the susceptibility to apoptosis of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN), obtained from MRL lpr/lpr mice, has been studied. Peritoneal PMN from lpr/lpr and control (+/+) mice were recruited with a mild inflammatory stimulus. The number of cells collected from the peritoneal cavity of young lpr/lpr mice was comparable to that obtained from age-matched control mice, indicating that PMN homeostasis is maintained regardless of the loss-of-function Fas mutation. Recruited neutrophils were exposed in culture to apoptosis-inducing stimuli. Treatment with agonist anti-Fas antibody increased apoptosis of +/+ PMN, but did not affect lpr/lpr PMN which do not express Fas on their surface. However, lpr/lpr PMN could undergo both spontaneous and stimulus-induced apoptosis in a fashion comparable to or higher than that of control +/+ mice. Analysis of mRNA expression revealed that lpr/lpr PMN have reduced expression of IL-18, whereas IL-1β, IFNγ, caspase 1 and caspase 3 are expressed at levels comparable to those of +/+ cells. However, caspase-3-like activity was higher in PMN from lpr/lpr mice than in +/+ cells, and correlated with enhanced apoptosis. It could be concluded that in young, uncompromised lpr/lpr mice, PMN homeostasis is still fully regulated through the involvement of Fas-independent, compensatory, apoptotic mechanisms. This could include an increased participation of caspase 3 in the apoptotic pathway, consequent to enhanced activation of the enzyme and to the decreased production of IL-18, which acts as a competitive caspase 3 substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-517
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Cytokine Network
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Apoptosis
  • Autoimmunity
  • Neutrophils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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