Research ArticleLupus

NADPH Oxidase Inhibits the Pathogenesis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Science Translational Medicine  24 Oct 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 157, pp. 157ra141
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004801

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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by loss of tolerance to self nucleic acids. The source of autoantigen that drives disease onset and progression is unclear. A candidate source of autoantigen is the neutrophil extracellular trap (NET), which releases nucleic acids into the extracellular environment, generating a structure composed of DNA coated with antimicrobial proteins. On the basis of in vitro and patient correlative studies, several groups have suggested that NETs may provide lupus autoantigens. The observation that NET release (NETosis) relies on activity of the phagocyte NADPH (reduced form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) oxidase (Nox2) in neutrophils of both humans and mice provided a genetic strategy to test this hypothesis in vivo. Therefore, we crossed an X-linked nox2 null allele onto the lupus-prone MRL.Faslpr genetic background and assessed immune activation, autoantibody generation, and SLE pathology. Counter to the prevailing hypothesis, Nox2-deficient lupus-prone mice had markedly exacerbated lupus, including increased spleen weight, increased renal disease, and elevated and altered autoantibody profiles. Moreover, heterozygous female mice, which have Nox2 deficiency in 50% of neutrophils, also had exacerbated lupus and altered autoantibody patterns, suggesting that failure to undergo normal Nox2-dependent cell death may result in release of immunogenic self-constituents that stimulate lupus. Our results indicate that NETosis does not contribute to SLE in vivo; instead, Nox2 acts to inhibit disease pathogenesis, making this enzyme an important target for further study and a candidate for therapeutic intervention.

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