NZB female × NZW male F1 hybrid (B/W) mice spontaneously develop an autoimmune disease similar to human systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)4 characterized by the appearance of antinuclear antibodies and fatal glomerulonephritis (1). Although a variety of autoantigens may be involved, anti-DNA has been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of the renal disease (2, 3). The detectable anti-DNA in the serum is directed predominantly to determinants on single stranded DNA (4, 5).

One of the critical questions with respect to autoimmune diseases in general is whether lymphoid cell function is normal, or if in fact there is altered function of thymic dependent (T) or thymic independent (B) lymphocytes. Although other investigators have approached this problem by examining the cellular response to heterologous antigens in the B/W mouse, similar approaches to autoantigens have not been reported. The present study describes preliminary experiments which demonstrate that the spontaneously occurring immune response to single stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (S-DNA) in B/W mice can be readily detected and quantitated by the hemolytic plaque assay.

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