• Autoimmunity;
  • Autoreactive T cells;
  • Th2 cells;
  • Th0 cells;
  • Gold salts


Brown Norway (BN) rats given gold salts develop an autoimmune syndrome with an immune complex-type glomerulonephritis in the context of a polyclonal B cell activation that was suspected to be due to the emergence of anti-self major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II T cells. In the present study, six anti-self MHC class II T cell lines have been derived from six gold salttreated rats by repeated stimulations with normal syngeneic MHC class II-bearing cells. The T cell lines proliferated in the presence of self MHC class II-positive B cell-enriched or B cell-depleted cells and the proliferation was inhibited by preincubating stimulator cells with an anti-IA monoclonal antibody. The T cell lines produced interleukin (IL)-4 only or IL-4 and some interferon (IFN)-γ and could, therefore, be considered as T helper type 2 (Th2) and Th0 cells, respectively. They triggered normal syngeneic B cells to produce in vitro IgE, anti-DNA, anti-laminin and anti-2,4-6-trinitrophenol antibodies through, at least in part, cognate interactions. More interestingly, these lines when transferred into normal BN rats induced an autoimmune syndrome similar to or even more severe than the one observed in the active gold model, provided the recipients were CD8 depleted. These manifestations included a dramatic increase in serum IgE concentration and the production of anti-DNA and anti-laminin antibodies. In addition, all recipients displayed an autoimmune glomerulonephritis due to anti-laminin antibodies, granular IgG deposits in the interstitium, in the vessel walls and along the tubular basement membranes and a severe tubulointerstitial nephritis with marked mononuclear cell infiltration. An anti-ovalbumin T cell line that produced IL-4 and low amounts of IFN-γ was used as a control and did not induce autoimmunity. These results demonstrate for the first time the ability of autoreactive Th2 as well as Th0 cell lines to induce antibody-mediated autoimmunity. They also show that CD8+ cells play a crucial role in the control of such autoreactive cells. Finally, this work suggests that Th2 cells could initiate cell-mediated reactions either directly or indirectly.