To elucidate the mechanism of autoimmune disease in neonatally thymectomized (NTX) mice, we have investigated the responsiveness of the self‐reactive T cells which have not undergone clonal deletion in such animals. Consistent with a recent report (Yuuki et al., Eur. J. Immunol. 1990. 20: 1475), T cells bearing Vβ11‐gene products capable of recognizing I‐E‐encoded molecules were readily detected in the mature T cell pool of NTX BALB/c (I‐Ed, Mls‐2a) mice. The Vβ11‐bearing T cells in NTX mice expressed interleukin 2 receptors and responded normally to signals delivered through the T cell receptor. Notably, these T cells in NTX mice proliferated significantly after culture with the 65‐kDa mycobacterial heat‐shock protein, whose amino acid sequence is highly homologous to that in eukaryotes. These results suggest that self‐reactive T cells in NTX mice may be activated by heat‐shock proteins derived from various pathogens and/or stressed autologous cells, resulting in the development of autoimmune diseases in such animals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy