Induction of Drug-Induced, Autoimmune Hepatitis in BALB/c Mice for the Study of Its Pathogenic Mechanisms

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Drug-induced autoimmune hepatitis (DIH) is the most common hepatic drug-induced hypersensitization process observed in approximately 9 to 12% of patients with autoimmune hepatitis. The overwhelming majority of patients with DIH are women. The underlying mechanisms of these sex differences in prevalence are unclear because of the paucity of animal models that mimic human disease. Even so, underlying mechanisms are widely believed to be associated with human leukocyte antigen haplotypes and sex hormones. In contrast, using a DIH mouse model, we have uncovered that IL-4 initiates CD4+ T cells directed against an epitope of cytochrome P450 2E1 induces influx of neutrophils, macrophages and mast cells into the livers of female BALB/c mice. Using this model, we have also shown that IL-33-induced FoxP3+regulatory T cells confer protection against DIH in female and male mice. This DIH model is induced by immunizing mice with an epitope of CYP2E1 that has been covalently altered with a drug metabolite that has been associated with DIH. This epitope is recognized by patients with DIH. Our method induces robust and reproducible hepatitis and autoantibodies that can be utilized to study the pathogenesis of DIH. While in vivo studies can cause undue pain and distress in mice when done improperly, the advantage of an in vivo model is the ability to evaluate the pathogenesis of disease in a large number of mice. Additionally, biological effects of the altered liver proteins can be studied using invasive procedures. The addition of in vitro studies to the experimental design allows rapid repetition and mechanistic analysis at a cellular level. Thus, we will demonstrate our model protocol and how it can be utilized to study in vivo and in vitro mechanisms of DIH.