Anti-DNA antibody production by CD5+ and CD5- B cells of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus

J Clin Invest. 1990 Jan;85(1):238-47. doi: 10.1172/JCI114418.


Although the presence of anti-DNA antibody is a hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), neither the subsets of B cells that secrete anti-DNA antibody nor the stimuli responsible for the induction of anti-DNA secretion is known. In particular, the role of CD5+ B cells in human SLE, a distinct subpopulation of antibody-secreting cells shown previously to be a source of anti-DNA antibody in murine models of SLE, is unknown. To approach these questions, we developed a sensitive enzyme-linked immunospot (ELIspot) assay to measure spontaneous secretion of antibody to single-stranded (ss) DNA, double-stranded (ds) DNA, tetanus toxoid, and polyclonal immunoglobulin (Ig) by purified CD5+ and CD5- B cells of 15 SLE patients and 15 healthy control subjects. The B cells of only 1 of 15 healthy subjects secreted a significant level of anti-ssDNA antibody, and none secreted anti-dsDNA. By contrast, in the majority of SLE patients both CD5+ and CD5- B cells secreted IgG and/or IgM anti-ssDNA as well as anti-dsDNA antibody. Further analysis of the anti-ssDNA response revealed that the level of IgG and IgM anti-DNA antibody secretion by CD5- B cells correlated closely with the level of polyclonal Ig production by the same subpopulation (r = 0.81 and 0.70, respectively). In contrast, production of anti-DNA by CD5+ B cells occurred independently of polyclonal Ig production by both CD5+ and CD5- B cell subpopulations. These results suggest that in human SLE there exist two anti-DNA antibody-producing B cell subpopulations with distinct induction mechanisms: one (CD5+), which independently secretes anti-DNA, and another (CD5-), which produces anti-DNA as an apparent consequence of polyclonal B cell activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antigens, CD / analysis*
  • Antigens, Differentiation / analysis*
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis*
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD5 Antigens
  • Cell Separation
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Middle Aged


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Autoantibodies
  • CD5 Antigens
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M