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J Exp Med. 1998 Sep 7;188(5):985-90.

Interleukin 6 dependence of anti-DNA antibody production: evidence for two pathways of autoantibody formation in pristane-induced lupus.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill 27599-7280, USA.


Pristane induces a lupus-like syndrome in nonautoimmune mice characterized by the development of glomerulonephritis and lupus-associated autoantibodies. This is accompanied by overproduction of interleukin (IL)-6, a cytokine linked with autoimmune phenomena. The goal of this study was to evaluate the role of IL-6 in autoantibody production in pristane-induced lupus. BALB/cAn IL-6-deficient (-/-) and -intact (+/+) mice were treated with pristane or phosphate-buffered saline, and autoantibody production was evaluated. Pristane induced high levels of immunoglobulin (Ig)G anti-single-stranded DNA, -double-stranded (ds)DNA, and -chromatin antibodies in IL-6(+/+), but not IL-6(-/-) mice by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. High titer IgG anti-dsDNA antibodies also were detected in sera from +/+, but not -/-, mice by Crithidia luciliae kinetoplast staining. The onset of IgG anti-dsDNA antibody production in +/+ mice occurred >5 mo after pristane treatment, well after the onset of nephritis, suggesting that these antibodies are not directly responsible for inducing renal disease. In contrast to anti-DNA, the frequencies of anti-nRNP/Sm and anti-Su antibodies were similar in pristane-treated IL-6(-/-) and IL-6(+/+) mice. However, levels were higher in the +/+ group. These results suggest that IgG anti-DNA and chromatin antibodies in pristane-treated mice are strictly IL-6 dependent, whereas induction of anti-nRNP/Sm and Su autoantibodies is IL-6 independent. The IL-6 dependence of anti-DNA, but not anti-nRNP/Sm, may have implications for understanding the patterns of autoantibody production in lupus. Anti-DNA antibodies are produced transiently, mainly during periods of disease activity, whereas anti-nRNP/Sm antibody levels are relatively insensitive to disease activity. This may reflect the differential IL-6 dependence of the two responses.

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