B cell hyperactivity characterizes many autoimmune diseases. In NZB mice this is manifested by a variety of immunologic aberrations, including increased B cell proliferation and hyper IgM and IgA secretion in vitro. Recent studies have shown that IgA secretion can be suppressed or enhanced in an isotype-specific manner by a soluble factor(s), called IgA-binding factor (IgABF), produced by IgA FcR-bearing T cells. We now show that T cells from young NZB mice, cultured with high concentrations of IgA, produce an IgABF that has aberrant biologic activity when compared to IgABF produced from IgA FcR+ T cells of BALB/c mice. Although BALB/c IgABF normally suppresses proliferation and secretion by IgA-producing B cells, neither proliferation nor IgA secretion from normal murine IgA-B cells is suppressed by NZB IgABF. In fact, IgA secretion is significantly enhanced by NZB IgABF. We also present the first evidence of IgA anti-mouse erythrocyte (anti-MRBC) autoantibody-forming cells present in the spleens of NZB mice. Whereas BALB/c IgABF suppresses the in vitro generation of IgA anti-MRBC autoantibody-forming cells by NZB spleen cells, NZB IgABF enhances this response. Of particular interest is the development of IgA anti-MRBC autoantibody-forming cells in cultures of spleen cells from nonautoimmune BALB/c mice in the presence of NZB IgABF. These studies suggest that isotype-specific T cells factors might play an important role in the development of autoantibody-forming cells.

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