Influence of microbial stimulation on hypergammaglobulinemia and autoantibody production in pristane-induced lupus

Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1998 Mar;86(3):271-9. doi: 10.1006/clin.1997.4481.


Pristane induces a lupus-like syndrome characterized by autoantibody production and glomerulonephritis in nonautoimmune strains of mice. Although it has been suggested that this syndrome results from nonspecific immune activation, there is little evidence so far that B cells are activated nonspecifically by pristane or that this promotes autoimmunity. In this study, we examined whether polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia occurs in pristane-induced lupus, and its relationship to the production of anti-DNA, nRNP/Sm, and Su autoantibodies. In conventionally housed mice, there was a marked increase in total IgM and IgG3 2 weeks after i.p. pristane injection, followed by increased IgG1, IgG2a, and IgG2b levels. IgM levels were higher in pristane-treated specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice than in conventionally housed mice, whereas IgG and IgA levels were reduced. Pristane induced anti-nRNP/Sm and Su autoantibodies in SPF mice, but their onset was delayed and levels were lower than those in conventionally housed mice. There was no consistent relationship between total IgG1, 2a, and 2b hypergammaglobulinemia and production of anti-nRNP/Sm and Su autoantibodies. Moreover, the total Ig levels were similar in the anti-nRNP/Sm-positive and -negative groups. In contrast, production of IgM anti-ssDNA antibodies paralleled IgM hypergammaglobulinemia in some, but not all, mice. These studies indicate that pristane-induced lupus is associated with marked hypergammaglobulinemia, the magnitude of which is influenced by the microbial environment. However, anti-nRNP/Sm and Su autoantibody production is at least partly independent of polyclonal B cell activation. The data strongly suggest that pristane-induced lupus is not exclusively the consequence of nonspecific immune stimulation. They also point to the importance of microbial stimulation in the development of hypergammaglobulinemia in this inducible lupus model.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / biosynthesis
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis*
  • Autoantigens
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / etiology*
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / immunology
  • Immunoglobulins / blood
  • Lupus Nephritis / chemically induced
  • Lupus Nephritis / immunology*
  • Lupus Nephritis / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Proteins
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / immunology
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms / immunology
  • Terpenes / toxicity
  • Time Factors
  • snRNP Core Proteins


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Proteins
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear
  • Su autoantigen
  • Terpenes
  • snRNP Core Proteins
  • pristane