Plasma Cell Depletion Attenuates Hypertension in an Experimental Model of Autoimmune Disease

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Numerous studies show a direct relation between circulating autoantibodies, characteristic of systemic autoimmune disorders, and primary hypertension in humans. Whether these autoantibodies mechanistically contribute to the development of hypertension remains unclear. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by aberrant immunoglobulin production, notably pathogenic autoantibodies, and is associated with prevalent hypertension, renal injury, and cardiovascular disease. Because plasma cells produce the majority of serum immunoglobulins and are the primary source of autoantibodies in SLE, we hypothesized that plasma cell depletion using the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib would lower autoantibody production and attenuate hypertension. Thirty-week-old female SLE (NZBWF1) and control (NZW [New Zealand White]) mice were injected IV with vehicle (0.9% saline) or bortezomib (0.75 mg/kg) twice weekly for 4 weeks. Bortezomib treatment significantly lowered the percentage of bone marrow plasma cells in SLE mice. Total plasma IgG and anti-dsDNA IgG levels were higher in SLE mice compared with control mice but were lowered by bortezomib treatment. Mean arterial pressure (mm Hg) measured in conscious mice by carotid artery catheter was higher in SLE mice than in control mice, but mean arterial pressure was significantly lower in bortezomib-treated SLE mice. Bortezomib also attenuated renal injury, as assessed by albuminuria and glomerulosclerosis, and reduced glomerular immunoglobulin deposition and B and T lymphocytes infiltration into the kidneys. Taken together, these data show that the production of autoantibodies by plasma cells mechanistically contributes to autoimmune-associated hypertension and suggests a potential role for patients with primary hypertension who have increased circulating immunoglobulins.

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