Molecular and cellular basis for pathogenicity of autoantibodies

Tohoku J Exp Med. 1994 May;173(1):15-30. doi: 10.1620/tjem.173.15.


Using two different kinds of monoclonal autoantibodies, anti-mouse RBC (MRBC) autoantibodies and IgG3 rheumatoid factor (RF) cryoglobulins, we have attempted to better define the molecular and cellular basis of the pathogenicity of autoantibodies. Among eight anti-MRBC monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) obtained from NZB mice, only five of them are able to cause anemia. The distinct differences in specificity between pathogenic and non-pathogenic anti-MRBC mAbs emphasize the importance of autoantibody specificity for the pathogenesis of autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Histological examination has revealed that Fc gamma receptor-mediated erythrophagocytosis and sequestration of agglutinated RBC in spleens and livers are the major pathogenic mechanisms of hemolytic anemia. This indicates that the affinity of autoantibodies for the Fc gamma receptors of phagocytes and/or the ability to cause hemagglutination, both of which vary among immunoglobulin isotypes, are additional factors determining the pathogenic activity of anti-MRBC autoantibodies. Studies on a panel of anti-IgG2a RF mAbs derived from MRL-lpr/lpr mice have demonstrated that only the IgG3 isotypes of RF mAb are able to generate cryoglobulins and to induce skin leukocytoclastic vasculitis and glomerulonephritis in normal mice. Although the cryoglobulin activity of RF mAb associated with the IgG3 isotype has been shown to be solely responsible for the generation of glomerular lesions (both RF and cryoglobulin activities are necessary for cutaneous vascular lesions), the absence of nephritogenic activity by some IgG3 monoclonal cryoglobulins supports the idea that qualitative features of cryoglobulins are critical to determine their pathogenic activities. Of interest, IgG3 autoantibodies lacking the cryoglobulin activity may not be harmful, but even protective against the development of IgG3 cryoglobulin-mediated tissue lesions, because they inhibit the cryoglobulin formation of pathogenic IgG3 autoantibodies as a result of their nonspecific IgG3 Fc-Fc interaction. Our results on monoclonal autoantibodies clearly indicate the importance of certain subpopulations of autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of autoantibody-mediated cellular and tissue injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic, Autoimmune / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Cryoglobulins / immunology
  • Erythrocytes / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NZB
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Paraproteinemias / immunology
  • Rheumatoid Factor / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Autoantibodies
  • Cryoglobulins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Rheumatoid Factor