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Immunology. 1978 Jun;34(6):1063-9.

The immune response in NZB mice of different ages to thymus-dependent and thymus-independent phosphorylcholine antigens.


This study was designed to examine aberrations of immune responses in autoimmune NZB strain mice during ageing, at the level of individual B cell clones. The response to phosphorylcholine (PC) was chosen because murine responses to PC are restricted to a few B cell clones and can be characterized with idiotypic markers. Responses to both thymus-dependent (TD) and thymus-independently (TI) PC-containing antigens were measured in mice ranging from 1 to 62 weeks of age. We found that: (1) TD responses to phosphorylcholine keyhole limpet haemocyanin (PC-KLH) decreased markedly (about 17-fold) between 28 and 62 weeks of age. TI responses to the R36a strain pneumococcus decreased only slightly during the same period. (2) The PFC responses to both antigens became markedly prolonged in mice older than 24 weeks. (3) The NZB response to either antigen is essentially monoclonal, as measured by inhibition of PFC with specific anti-idiotype serum and PC hapten. No age-related alteration in avidity or idiotype expression was observed. Our results demonstrate that no aberrant PC-reactive B cell clones appear in old NZB, and lend support to the notion that the abnormalities observed are due to defective regulatory mechanisms.

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