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Autoimmunity. 1993;15(1):55-9.

Post-thymectomy organ-specific autoimmunity: enhancement by cyclosporine A and inhibition by IL-2.

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Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


It has previously been shown that the administration of cyclosporine A to newborn mice results in the development of autoimmunity later in life. It has been proposed that the neonatal administration of cyclosporine A results in altered thymic selection or inhibition of the development of suppressor cells. In the present study, treatment of day 3 thymectomized C3H/HeN mice with cyclosporine A (20 mg/kg/day) for 9 d post surgery increased the prevalence of antigastric autoantibodies. In contrast, the administration of IL-2 (300-600 Units/g/day) for 7 days after thymectomy inhibited the development of antigastric antibodies. We hypothesize that CsA may act by causing transient lymphokine abnormalities in the extrathymic environment during the first few weeks of life which lead to the development of antigastric antibodies. In contrast to the inhibition of development of antigastric antibodies, the administration of a similar course of IL-2 produced only a transient suppression of diabetes in NOD mice. These results and other data suggest that diabetes in NOD mice is probably due to a different immunologic defect.

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