Objective: To compare the humoral response to nucleosomes with the response to their individual components (double-stranded DNA [dsDNA] and histones) and to assess the involvement of antinucleosome antibodies in immune deposits in the kidney of MRL mice.
Methods: We used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays of sera and kidney eluates for antibody activity against purified nucleosomes, dsDNA, and histones.
Results: Antinucleosome antibodies emerged before anti-dsDNA and antihistone antibodies. A fraction of antinucleosome antibodies reacted exclusively with nucleosomes and not with their components, dsDNA and histones. These nucleosome-restricted antibodies were detected in the proteinuric MRL mouse kidney eluate.
Conclusion: Our findings support the notion that nucleosomes play a major role in the emergence of antinuclear autoantibodies and that antinucleosome antibodies might be involved in the nephritogenic process in murine lupus.