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Toxicol Sci. 2004 Apr;78(2):222-8. Epub 2004 Jan 12.

Distinctive patterns of autoimmune response induced by different types of mineral oil.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610-0221, USA.


Although mineral oils are generally considered nontoxic and have a long history of use in humans, the mineral oil Bayol F (incomplete Freund's adjuvant, IFA) and certain mineral oil components (squalene and n-hexadecane) induce lupus-related anti-nRNP/Sm or -Su autoantibodies in nonautoimmune mice. In the present study, we investigated whether medicinal mineral oils can induce other types of autoantibodies and whether structural features of hydrocarbons influence autoantibody specificity. Female 3-month-old BALB/c (16-45/group) mice each received an i.p. injection of pristane (C19), squalene (C30), IFA, three medicinal mineral oils (MO-F, MO-HT, MO-S), or PBS. Sera were tested for autoantibodies and immunoglobulin levels. Hydrocarbons were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. IFA contained mainly C15-C25 hydrocarbons, whereas MO-HT and MO-S contained C20-C40, and MO-F contained C15-C40. Pristane and n-hexadecane were found in IFA (0.17% and 0.10% w/v, respectively) and MOs (0.0026-0.027%). At 3 months, pristane and IFA induced mainly IgG2a, squalene IgG1, and MOs IgG3 and IgM in sera. Anti-cytoplasmic antibodies were common in mice treated with MO-F, as well as those treated with pristane, squalene, and IFA. Anti-ssDNA and -chromatin antibodies were higher in MO-F and MO-S than in untreated/PBS, squalene-, or IFA-treated mice, suggesting that there is variability in the induction of anti-nRNP/Sm versus -chromatin/DNA antibodies. The preferential induction of anti-chromatin/ssDNA antibodies without anti-nRNP/Sm/Su by MO-S and MO-F is consistent with the idea that different types of autoantibodies are regulated differently. Induction of autoantibodies by mineral oils considered nontoxic also may have pathogenetic implications in human autoimmune diseases.

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