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J Immunol. 1998 Dec 1;161(11):6427-32.

Central T cell tolerance in lupus-prone mice: influence of autoimmune background and the lpr mutation.

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Section of Rheumatology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8031, USA.


Lupus-prone mice develop a systemic autoimmune disease that is dependent upon the B cell help provided by autoreactive alphabeta CD4+ T cells. Since autoreactive T cells with high affinity for self peptides are normally deleted in the thymus, their presence in these mice suggests the possibility that intrathymic negative selection may be defective. Here, we directly compared central T cell tolerance in response to a conventional peptide Ag in lupus-prone MRL/MpJ mice with a nonautoimmune strain using an MHC class II-restricted TCR transgene. Our results did not demonstrate any defects after Ag exposure in the induction of intrathymic deletion of immature CD4+ CD8+ thymocytes, in TCR down-regulation, or in the number of apoptotic thymocytes in MRL/MpJ compared with nonautoimmune mice. Furthermore, we found that the lpr mutation had no influence upon the Ag-induced thymic deletion of immature thymocytes. These data support the notion that T cell autoreactivity in MRL/MpJ mice is caused by defects in peripheral control mechanisms.

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