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J Clin Invest. 1990 Jun;85(6):1866-71.

A conserved idiotype and antibodies to retroviral proteins in systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Clinical Immunology Section, Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, San Antonio, Texas 78284.


22 of 61 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients produced antibodies to the p24 gag protein of HIV-1 demonstrated by Western blotting. 20 of these 22 patients (91%) also express the 4B4 idiotype (Id 4B4) previously identified on a human anti-Sm monoclonal antibody called 4B4. This represents an enrichment for this Id (seen in only 52% of SLE patients generally). Eight of these 22 SLE patients also have anti-Sm antibody activity. Sm partially inhibits the antibody binding of p24 gag suggesting immunologic cross-reactivity between the retroviral antigen p24 gag and the autoantigen Sm. Anti-Id 4B4 also inhibits p24 gag antibody binding by as much as 40%. Finally the monoclonal antibody 4B4 showed cross-reactivity to Sm and p24 gag. The following points emerge from our studies: (a) SLE patients make antibodies to p24 gag of HIV-1, (b) there is a relationship between immunity to p24 gag and a conserved idiotype, and (c) anti-Sm antibodies can cross-react with p24 gag.

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