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J Immunol. 2004 Feb 1;172(3):1553-60.

Autoreactive B cells in lupus-prone New Zealand black mice exhibit aberrant survival and proliferation in the presence of self-antigen in vivo.

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Arthritis Centre of Excellence, Toronto Western Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


To identify defects in B cell tolerance that may contribute to the production of autoantibodies in New Zealand Black (NZB) mice, we crossed soluble hen egg white lysozyme (sHEL) and anti-HEL Ig transgenes (Ig Tg) onto the NZB background. In this study, we have examined one of the first checkpoints involved in maintenance of peripheral B cell tolerance, follicular exclusion and elimination of self-reactive B cells in the absence of T cell help. Freshly isolated anti-HEL Ig Tg B cells were labeled with CFSE, adoptively transferred into sHEL recipients, and the fate of self-reactive anti-HEL Ig Tg B cells was followed using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. Although anti-HEL Ig Tg B cells from NZB mice are appropriately excluded from B cell follicles in NZB sHEL recipient mice, they demonstrate aberrant survival, proliferation, and generation of anti-HEL Ab-producing cells. This abnormal response results from an intrinsic defect in NZB B cells, requires the presence of CD4(+) T cells, and is facilitated by the splenic environment in NZB mice. Thus, NZB mice have immune defects that interact synergistically to allow autoreactive B cells to become activated despite the presence of tolerizing autoantigens.

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