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Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Feb;44(2):432-41.

Treatment with a consensus peptide based on amino acid sequences in autoantibodies prevents T cell activation by autoantigens and delays disease onset in murine lupus.

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University of California, Los Angeles, USA.



To test the hypothesis that an artificial peptide, based on an algorithm describing T cell stimulatory sequences from the VH regions of murine IgG antibodies to DNA, is an effective tolerogen in vivo in the (NZB/NZW)F1 (BWF1) mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus.


Using proliferative T cell responses to 439 Ig peptides, an algorithm was constructed that describes the amino acid sequences likely to stimulate BWF1 T cells. Stimulatory (pConsensus [pCONS]) or nonstimulatory (pNegative [pNEG]) peptides were synthesized. Groups of 10-week-old (healthy) or 20-week-old (diseased) BWF1 mice received monthly intravenous injections of 1,000 microg of peptide or saline. Ex vivo splenic T cell responses and in vivo clinical effects were measured.


Tolerance was induced by pCONS, but not by pNEG, with respect to ex vivo T cell proliferation and T cell help for antibodies to DNA. T cell help for IgG anti-DNA was impaired not only after T cell stimulation by pCONS but also after stimulation by some peptides from nucleosomal and Ro antigens. Treatment with pCONS significantly delayed the onset of nephritis and inhibited increases in the plasma levels of total IgG, IgG antibodies to DNA, nucleosome, cardiolipin, interferon-gamma, and interleukin-4. In contrast, antibody responses to an exogenous antigen were not impaired. Survival was significantly prolonged in both healthy and diseased mice treated with pCONS.


Induction of immune tolerance in response to treatment with pCONS in autoreactive T cell helper populations is highly effective in delaying the appearance of multiple autoantibodies, cytokine increases, and nephritis in BWF1 mice, and dramatically prolongs survival. A striking effect is the ability of the peptide to tolerize T cell help for anti-DNA that is induced by multiple, structurally unrelated self antigens.

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