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J Leukoc Biol. 2001 Oct;70(4):578-84.

Spontaneous formation of germinal centers in autoimmune mice.

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Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201-1192, USA.


The mechanisms of autoantibody production are not well understood. Germinal centers (GC) may be important sites of immune disregulation in autoimmune diseases. In this study, we document the presence of spontaneous GC formation in the spleens of several autoimmune mouse strains that spontaneously develop autoimmune Type I diabetes and a lupus-like disease. In contrast, mouse strains that do not develop lupus did not exhibit spontaneous formation of GC. In all of the autoimmune strains studied, GC were present at 1-2 months of age, a time that closely parallels the appearance of autoantibodies. Like the GC that develop after purposeful immunization, GC in autoimmune mice contained B220(+), PNA(+), and GL-7(+) B cells, and FDC-M1(+) follicular dendritic cells. In addition, spontaneously formed GC in autoimmunity and those caused by immunization were abrogated in a similar way by a short-term treatment with anti-CD40 ligand antibody. These data indicate that spontaneously forming GC in autoimmunity are similar to those appearing after purposeful immunization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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