The American journal of pathology

Aromatase controls Sjögren syndrome-like lesions through monocyte chemotactic protein-1 in target organ and adipose tissue-associated macrophages.

PMID 25447050


Several autoimmune diseases are known to develop in postmenopausal women. However, the mechanism by which estrogen deficiency influences autoimmunity is unknown. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts androgens to estrogens. Herein, we used female aromatase gene knockout (ArKO) mice as a model of estrogen deficiency to investigate the molecular mechanism that underlies the onset and development of autoimmunity. Histological analyses showed that inflammatory lesions in the lacrimal and salivary glands of ArKO mice increased with age. Adoptive transfer of spleen cells or bone marrow cells from ArKO mice into recombination activating gene 2 knockout mice failed to induce the autoimmune lesions. Expression of mRNA encoding proinflammatory cytokines and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 increased in white adipose tissue of ArKO mice and was significantly higher than that in wild-type mice. Moreover, an increased number of inflammatory M1 macrophages was observed in white adipose tissue of ArKO mice. A significantly increased monocyte chemotactic protein-1 mRNA expression of the salivary gland tissue in ArKO was found together with adiposity. Furthermore, the autoimmune lesions in a murine model of Sjögren syndrome were exacerbated by administration of an aromatase inhibitor. These results suggest that aromatase may play a key role in the pathogenesis of Sjögren syndrome-like lesions by controlling the target organ and adipose tissue-associated macrophage.