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Immunol Res. 1999;20(1):67-78.

Murine mercury-induced autoimmunity: a model of chemically related autoimmunity in humans.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA.


Human exposure to certain compounds or therapeutic drugs can result in the development of an autoimmune syndrome. Mercury (Hg) induced autoimmunity is one of the few animal models in which administration of a chemical induces a specific loss of tolerance to self-antigens. After receiving subtoxic doses of Hg or other heavy metals, susceptible mouse strains rapidly develop highly specific antibodies to nucleolar antigens. In addition, these animals display a general activation of the immune system, especially pronounced for the Th2 subset and a transient glomerulonephritis with immunoglobulin deposits. Like many human autoimmune diseases, this syndrome is associated with the expression of susceptible major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II genes. In this article, we review the essential features of this model, and we discuss the putative mechanisms by which Hg creates such a severe immune dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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