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Abstract

Experiments with transgenic mice expressing the glycoprotein (GP) of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) under the control of the rat insulin promoter (RIP) have demonstrated that potentially self-reactive T cells that normally ignore self peptides may nevertheless be induced by self peptides or “cross-reactive” foreign (e.g. viral) peptides that arise in the host in an immunogenic form; once activated these potentially self-reactive T cells may cause autoaggressive diseases (e.g. diabetes). The possibility of vaccinating against such T cell-mediated immunopathological diseases was evaluated in the RIP-GP transgenic mouse line Bln. Any attempt to vaccinate with the self antigen itself (e.g. recombinant vaccinia virus expressing LCMV-GP) failed to protect mice from disease. However, immunization with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing LCMV-nucleoprotein (vacc-NP) as a non-GP LCMV vaccine was able to modulate the immune response and prevented autoaggressive disease in a MHC-dependent fashion. In contrast, tolerance induction neonatally or, more generally applicable, by lethal irradiation and reconstitution with neo-self antigen-expressing bone marrow cells always resulted in prevention of virally induced diabetes in this model situation.