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J Autoimmun. 1993 Jun;6(3):281-9.

Gangliosides elicit a T-cell independent antibody response.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287-7519.


Antibodies to glycolipids have recently been found to be elevated in a substantial proportion of patients with motor neuron diseases, various neuropathies and classical ALS. Several features of these antibody responses suggest that they may be produced by a T-cell independent B lymphocyte response: (1) antibodies are predominantly of IgM class; (2) antibodies against gangliosides are directed against the carbohydrate component of the gangliosides; and (3) antiganglioside antibodies are difficult to suppress. In this study we have asked whether gangliosides can induce T-independent responses, in T-cell deficient and T-cell competent mice. Homozygous nude mice (nu/nu), which lack T-cells, and heterozygous controls (nu/+) with intact T-cells, were immunized and rechallenged with the ganglioside GM1 in liposomes. Antibodies were measured by an ELISA method. Both nude mice and controls produced high titers of IgM class antibodies to the ganglioside GM1. The antibody titers peaked by 7 days after each immunization and declined by 14 days. The maximum titer rose progressively after each immunization. No significant amount of IgG antibody to GM1 was produced by either nu/nu or nu/+ mice, even after repeated immunization. These results suggest that gangliosides elicit prominent T-cell-independent antibody responses. The implications of these findings for neurologic disorders associated with anti-ganglioside antibodies are discussed.

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