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Infect Immun. 2006 Feb;74(2):1196-203.

Pathogenesis of B-cell superantigen-induced immune complex-mediated inflammation.

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Allergy and Immunology Section, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 421 Curie Boulevard, 1014 BRB II/III, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Staphylococcal protein A (SpA) is representative of a new class of antigens, the B-cell superantigens (SAgs). These antigens bind to the Fab regions of immunoglobulin molecules outside their complementarity-determining regions. SpA, the best-studied B-cell SAg, reacts with the Fabs of most VH3+ immunoglobulins, which are expressed on 30 to 60% of human peripheral B cells. Therefore, B-cell SAgs like SpA have great potential to elicit inflammatory responses in vivo. We previously reported that the interaction of SpA with VH3+ immunoglobulin molecules leads to activation of the complement cascade and produces a histologic pattern of inflammation in the skin of a rabbit indicative of immune complex injury. To elucidate the cellular and molecular events contributing to this type of unconventional immune complex-mediated inflammation, we established a mouse peritoneal Arthus reaction model. Mice treated intravenously with human polyclonal immunoglobulin G (IgG), followed by intraperitoneal injection of SpA, showed neutrophil influx into the peritoneal cavity with peak numbers appearing at 8 h. This inflammatory reaction was dependent on the interaction of SpA with VH3+ IgG. Mast cells, FcgammaRIII, complement components, and tumor necrosis factor alpha play obligatory roles, and the reaction is associated with the local release of the CXC chemokines macrophage inflammatory protein 2 and KC. The data provide further compelling evidence for the induction of immune complex-mediated injury by a B-cell SAg and highlight important factors contributing to the pathogenesis of this novel type of inflammatory reaction.

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