During recent years, numerous studies have shown that epigenetics, heritable changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence, play an important role in the development, function, and regulation of the immune system as well as in the onset and progress of autoimmune diseases. For that reason, in the following chapter, we will review some of the most important concepts about epigenetics and how they modulate the development and function of immune cells, specifically macrophages, dendritic cells, and T cells. Moreover, we will review the role of epigenetics on autoimmune diseases, as well as the use of pharmacological modulation of the epigenetic machinery, as an innovative way to approach a potential new treatment or improve the current treatments of autoimmune diseases.
Part of the book: Translational Studies on Inflammation
Spontaneous models of lupus were recognized four decades ago beginning in the early 1960s with the NZB/NZW F1 (NZB/W F1) mouse, an F1 hybrid between the New Zealand Black (NZB) and New Zealand White (NZW) mice. Although the parental strains display limited autoimmunity, the NZB/W F1 develops severe lupus-like features similar to that of human lupus patients. Here, we will address the genetic characteristics of the model and discuss its main characteristics such as the presence of serum antinuclear autoantibodies (ANA) including anti-dsDNA, mild vasculitis, and the development of immune complex-mediated glomerulonephritis. Similar to human lupus, the disease develops primarily in female mice after six months of age, with a lesser percentage and severity in male mice. The relation of this phenomenon will be examined in the context of estrogen levels. The participation of both innate and adaptive immunity will be addressed as well as the contribution of both T and B cells in the development of the clinical aspects of the disease. We will focus on the use of the model as a valuable tool for elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms of the disease, as well as its use as preclinical testing of therapeutic for human use.
Part of the book: Lupus