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Clin Exp Immunol. Nov 1996; 106(2): 243–252.
PMCID: PMC2200591

The treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in NZB/W F1 hybrid mice; studies with recombinant murine DNase and with dexamethasone


The effects of recombinant mouse DNase on a well established murine model of spontaneous SLE have been evaluated. Daily intraperitoneal injections of DNase were given to female NZB/NZW F1 mice during the period of disease development from 4 to 7 months of age or at the height of disease activity from the age of 7 months for 3 weeks. This treatment was compared with the injections of diluent and with an immunosuppressive dose of dexamethasone. The effects of treatment were evaluated using the immunological parameters of disease activity (antinucleoprotein antibody, immune complexes, serum immunoglobulins, anti-cardiolipin antibodies), proteinuria, serum creatinine and renal histopathology (light microscopy, immunofluorescence and electron microscopy). The dose of dexamethasone used (1 mg/kg per day from the age of 4 months) was sufficient to suppress the development of lupus entirely. Treatment with DNase starting at the age of 4 months postponed the development of the disease by about 1 month and extended the period from the onset of disease to death by about 30%. Mice treated for 3 weeks during the most active phase of the disease at 7 months of age showed more dramatic effects. Proteinuria and serum creatinine were significantly reduced and renal histopathology was strikingly less severe than in the control group. Immune complexes involving DNA-containing antigens are believed to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of SLE. DNA-nucleoprotein, even in immune complexes, can be destroyed by DNase. This enzyme therefore provides a rational way to interfere with the disease process. The results reported here encourage a trial of recombinant human DNase in human SLE and lupus nephritis.

Keywords: systemic lupus erythematosus, DNase, dexamethasone, immune complexes, anti-DNA antibodies, NZB/W F1 mice

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