Background Overexpression of IL-23 in adult mice by means of hydrodynamic tail vein injection of IL-23 minicircles has been reported to result in spondyloarthritis-like disease. The impact of genetic background and sex on the disease phenotype in this model has not been investigated. Methods We compared male B10.RIII mice with male C57BL/6 mice, and male with female B10.RIII mice after hydrodynamic injection of IL-23 enhanced episomal vector (EEV) at 8–12 weeks of age. We monitored clinical arthritis scores, paw swelling, and body weight. Animals were euthanized after two weeks and tissues were harvested for histology, flow cytometry and gene expression analysis. Serum cytokine levels were determined by ELISA. Findings Male B10.RIII mice developed arthritis in the forepaws and feet within 6 days after IL-23 EEV injection; they also exhibited psoriasis-like skin disease, colitis, weight loss, and osteopenia. In contrast to previous reports, we did not observe spondylitis or uveitis. Male C57BL/ 6 mice injected with IL-23 EEV had serum IL-23 levels comparable with B10.RIII mice and developed skin inflammation, colitis, weight loss, and osteopenia but failed to develop arthritis. Female B10.RIII mice had more severe arthritis than male B10.RIII mice but did not lose weight. Conclusions The phenotype of IL-23 induced disease in mice is controlled by genetic background and sex of the animals. The development of extra-articular manifestations but absence of arthritis in C57BL/6 mice suggests that organ-specificity of IL-23 driven inflammation is genetically determined. The mechanisms behind the strain-specific differences and the sexual dimorphism observed in this study may be relevant for human spondyloarthritis and warrant further exploration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas