Accumulation of HLA-DR4 in Colonic Epithelial Cells Causes Severe Colitis in Homozygous HLA-DR4 Transgenic Mice

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Background:Homozygous HLA-DR4/I-Ed transgenic mice (tgm) spontaneously developed colitis similar to human ulcerative colitis. We explored whether endoplasmic reticulum stress in colonic epithelial cells due to overexpression of HLA-DR4/I-Ed was involved in the pathogenesis of colitis.Methods:Major histocompatibility complex class II transactivator-knockout (CIITAKO) background tgm were established to test the involvement of HLA-DR4/I-Ed expression in the pathogenesis of colitis. Histological and cellular analyses were performed and the effect of oral administration of the molecular chaperone tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) and antibiotics were investigated. IgA content of feces and serum and presence of IgA-coated fecal bacteria were also investigated.Results:Aberrantly accumulated HLA-DR4/I-Ed molecules in colonic epithelial cells were observed only in the colitic homozygous tgm, which was accompanied by upregulation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress marker Binding immunoglobulin protein (BiP) and reduced mucus. Homozygous tgm with CIITAKO, and thus absent of HLA-DR4/I-Ed expression, did not develop colitis. Oral administration of TUDCA to homozygotes reduced HLA-DR4/I-Ed and BiP expression in colonic epithelial cells and restored the barrier function of the intestinal tract. The IgA content of feces and serum, and numbers of IgA-coated fecal bacteria were higher in the colitic tgm, and antibiotic administration suppressed the expression of HLA-DR4/I-Ed and colitis.Conclusions:The pathogenesis of the colitis observed in the homozygous tgm was likely due to endoplasmic reticulum stress, resulting in goblet cell damage and compromised mucus production in the colonic epithelial cells in which HLA-DR4/I-Ed molecules were heavily accumulated. Commensal bacteria seemed to be involved in the accumulation of HLA-DR4/I-Ed, leading to development of the colitis.

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