It has long been recognized that autoimmunity is often associated with immunodeficiency. The mechanism underlying this paradox is not well understood. Bcl-3 (B-cell lymphoma 3) is an atypical member of the IκB (inhibitor of the nuclear factor-κB) family that is required for lymphoid organogenesis and germinal center responses. Mice deficient in Bcl-3 are immunodeficient because of the microarchitectural defects of their lymphoid organs. The goal of this study is to define the potential roles of Bcl-3 in type 1 diabetes.
Bcl-3–deficient NOD mice were generated by backcrossing Bcl-3–deficient C57BL/6 mice to NOD mice. Spontaneous and induced type 1 diabetes were studied in these mice by both pathologic and immunologic means. The effect of Bcl-3 on inflammatory gene transcription was evaluated in a promoter reporter assay.
We found that Bcl-3–deficient NOD and C57BL/6 mice were, paradoxically, more susceptible to autoimmune diabetes than wild-type mice. The increase in diabetes susceptibility was caused by Bcl-3 deficiency in hematopoietic cells but not nonhematopoietic cells. Bcl-3 deficiency did not significantly affect anti-islet Th1 or Th2 autoimmune responses, but markedly increased inflammatory chemokine and T helper 17 (Th17)-type cytokine expression. Upon transfection, Bcl-3 significantly inhibited the promoter activities of inflammatory chemokine and cytokine genes.