Severer lupus erythematosus-like skin lesions in MRL/lpr mice with homozygous Kitwsh/wsh mutation

Objective: To clarify the roles of mast cells (MCs) on the pathogenesis of lupus erythematosus (LE)-like skin lesions on MRL/lpr mice.

Methods: MRL/lpr mice were mated with C57BL/6-Kitwsh/wsh mice and the heterozygous F1 mice were 10 times backcrossed with the parental MRL/lpr to generate MRL/lpr-Kitwsh/wsh mice. MC-deficient MRL/lpr-Kitwsh/wsh mice were compared with MRL/lpr-Kit+/+ and MRL/lpr-Kitwsh/+ mice with intact MCs.

Results: MRL/lpr-Kitwsh/wsh mice developed skin lesions without infiltrating MCs. As similar skin lesions on MRL/lpr-Kit+/+ mice and MRL/lpr-Kitwsh/+ mice contain comparable number of MCs, these mice were collectively analyzed as MRL/lpr mice with MCs. Compared with MRL/lpr mice with MCs, skin lesions developed earlier and showed consistently higher severity, with significantly higher mRNA expressions of many inflammatory cytokines in the dorsal skin on MRL/lpr mice without MCs. Furthermore, survival rate was significantly lower in MRL/lpr mice without MCs. The number of infiltrating MCs significantly increased in association with the severity of skin lesions in MRL/lpr mice with MCs.

Conclusions: These results demonstrated that MCs are infiltrated to suppress the progression of LE-like skin lesions in MRL/lpr mice.