Similar to pancreatic islets, submandibular glands are more rapidly infiltrated in female NOD mice than in males. The present comparative analysis of cellular infiltrations in lacrimal glands, however, revealed the opposite finding. At 12 wk of age, approximately 25% of male lacrimal tissue area is infiltrated, whereas age-matched female NOD mice still lack major signs of inflammation. T cells predominate in early stages of invasion, but B cells accumulate promptly in more advanced stages, and ultimately dominate over T cells. Dacryoadenitis is promoted by sex hormones, as suggested by the reduced infiltrations seen in orchidectomized NOD males (P < 0.01). It is also controlled by the local environment provided by the lacrimal tissue. Splenocytes from 4- and 20-wk-old female NOD mice cause massive lesions upon adoptive transfer into NOD male recipients while, conversely, female recipients develop barely any histological sign of infiltration, even after transfer of splenocytes from 20-wk-old donor males. These observations provide strong evidence for a dacryoadenitis-promoting role of male gonadal hormones in NOD mice, a finding that contrasts the known androgen-mediated protective effects on insulitis and submandibulitis in the same strain and on dacryoadenitis in other animal models of Sjögren's syndrome.
R E Hunger, C Carnaud, I Vogt, C Mueller