Inducible tertiary lymphoid structures, autoimmunity, and exocrine dysfunction in a novel model of salivary gland inflammation in C57BL/6 mice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Michele Bombardieri
  • D. Lucchesi
  • Wim B van den Berg
  • Gordon Proctor
  • Costantino Pitzalis

Colleges, School and Institutes


Salivary glands in patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) develop ectopic lymphoid structures (ELS) characterized by B/T cell compartmentalization, the formation of high endothelial venules, follicular dendritic cell networks, functional B cell activation with expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase, as well as local differentiation of autoreactive plasma cells. The mechanisms that trigger ELS formation, autoimmunity, and exocrine dysfunction in SS are largely unknown. In this article, we present a novel model of inducible ectopic lymphoid tissue formation, breach of humoral self-tolerance, and salivary hypofunction after delivery of a replication-deficient adenovirus-5 in submandibular glands of C57BL/6 mice through retrograde excretory duct cannulation. In this model, inflammation rapidly and consistently evolves from diffuse infiltration toward the development of SS-like periductal lymphoid aggregates within 2 wk from AdV delivery. These infiltrates progressively acquire ELS features and support functional GL7(+)/activation-induced cytidine deaminase(+) germinal centers. Formation of ELS is preceded by ectopic expression of lymphoid chemokines CXCL13, CCL19, and lymphotoxin-β, and is associated with development of anti-nuclear Abs in up to 75% of mice. Finally, reduction in salivary flow was observed over 3 wk post-AdV infection, consistent with exocrine gland dysfunction as a consequence of the inflammatory response. This novel model has the potential to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate ELS formation and their role in exocrine dysfunction and autoimmunity in SS.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3767-3776
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012