Chromatin remodeling resets the immune system to protect against autoimmune diabetes in mice
journal contributionposted on 07.08.2012, 00:00 by Tejas Patel, Vasu Patel, Rajvir Singh, Sundararajan Jayaraman
Epigenetic alteration of the genome has been shown to provide palliative effects in mouse models of certain human autoimmune diseases. We have investigated whether chromatin remodeling could provide protection against autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice. Treatment of female mice during the transition from prediabetic to diabetic stage (18-24 weeks of age) with the well-characterized histone deacetylase inhibitor, Trichostatin A effectively reduced the incidence of diabetes. However, similar treatment of overtly diabetic mice during the same time period failed to reverse the disease. Protection against diabetes was accompanied by histone hyperacetylation in pancreas and spleen, enhanced frequency of CD4+ CD62L+ cells in the spleen, reduction in cellular infiltration of islets, restoration of normoglycemia and glucose-induced insulin release by beta cells. Activation of splenic T lymphocytes derived from protected mice in vitro with pharmacological agents that bypass the antigen receptor or immobilized anti-CD3 antibody resulted in enhanced expression of Ifng mRNA and protein without altering the expression of Il4, Il17, Il18, Inos, and Tnfa genes nor the secretion of IL-2, IL-4, IL-17, and TNF-α proteins. Consistently, expression of the transcription factor involved in Ifng transcription, Tbet/Tbx21 but not Gata3 and Rorgt, respectively required for the transcription of Il4 and Il17, was upregulated in activated splenocytes of protected mice. These results indicate that chromatin remodeling can lead to amelioration of diabetes by employing multiple mechanisms including differential gene transcription. Thus, epigenetic modulation could be a novel therapeutic approach to block the transition from benign to frank diabetes.