Anergy and not clonal ignorance determines the fate of B cells that recognize a physiological autoantigen.

Rojas M, Hulbert C, Thomas JW
J Immunol. 2001 166 (5): 3194-200

PMID: 11207272 · DOI:10.4049/jimmunol.166.5.3194

Autoantibodies to insulin arise spontaneously in the insulin autoimmune syndrome and in type I diabetes. In addition, administration of insulin to individuals without autoimmune disease routinely results in Abs that bind autologous hormone. These observations and findings in transgenic models of tolerance led to an inference that physiological levels of hormones and growth factors, such as insulin, are not sufficient to induce tolerance in B cells, a state termed clonal ignorance. In contrast, we have discovered that virtually all conventional B cells expressing a low affinity anti-insulin transgene interact with endogenous insulin and are effectively silenced for Ig production and for T cell-dependent immune responses. A fraction of transgenic B cells escapes silencing and functions autonomously to produce insulin Abs that may lower fasting blood sugars similar to an insulin autoimmune syndrome. These B cells have characteristics of a B1-like subset and are depleted by hypotonic peritoneal lysis. These findings question the concept of clonal ignorance and show that physiological concentrations of Ag may effectively silence conventional B cells even when the affinity for autoantigen is low. Self-reactivity may arise in the repertoire because of compartmental differences that govern the fate of B cells and not as a result of true clonal ignorance.

MeSH Terms (18)

Animals Autoantibodies Autoantigens B-Lymphocyte Subsets Binding Sites, Antibody Blood Glucose Cell Line Clonal Anergy Homeostasis Immunoglobulin M Insulin Islets of Langerhans Mice Mice, Inbred C57BL Mice, Inbred DBA Mice, Transgenic Receptors, Antigen, B-Cell Transgenes

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