We have analyzed gastrointestinal immune function in both DBA/2 and spontaneously autoimmune New Zealand Black (NZB) mice. We have studied both in vitro proliferation and differentiation of Peyer's patch cells and have measured immunoglobulin (Ig) secretion by cultured jejunal segments. Peyer's patch B cells and T cells from both DBA/2 and NZB mice showed similar proliferative responses to Con A and lipopolysaccharide (LPS), respectively. Unlike NZB splenic B cells, isolated Peyer's patch B cells from NZB mice did not spontaneously secrete Ig of any isotype. Seven-day cultures of equal numbers of Peyer's patch T cells and B cells resulted in similar patterns of secretion of IgA, IgG, and IgM in both strains. The addition of Con A to cultures of DBA/2 Peyer's patch cells consistently resulted in a onefold to threefold increase in IgA secretion after 7 days. Con A stimulation of NZB Peyer's patch cells did not produce any increment in IgA secretion. LPS stimulation of Peyer's patch cells from either strain resulted in a similar increase in IgG secretion with little effect on IgA secretion. The in vivo correlate of this finding was seen in the IgA to IgG ratio of Ig secreted by cultured jejunal fragments. In DBA/2 mice the rates of IgA/IgG varied from 2.36 to 4.85, whereas in NZB mice the ratio never exceeded 0.5. These experiments show that defects on the T cell compartment of NZB mice encompass gut-associated lymphoid tissue. The possible relationship of these findings and previously observed defects in oral tolerance is discussed.

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