The central goal in the therapy of autoimmune diseases is to develop potent tools able to exert specific control of the immune response to self Ag. Anti-Id may provide such specific immunodulators because the relevance of the idiotypic network in autoimmunity is well documented. We now describe the protective immunity against experimental autoimmune thyroiditis induced exclusively by a thyroglobulin (Tg)-specific cytotoxic T cell clone and show that this down-regulation occurs through the generation of anti-Id antibodies (Ab) (Ab2Beta) which recognize the paratope of a anti-Tg mAb (Ab1) specific to the pathogenic epitope of the Tg molecule. We further analyze the various steps of the Ab responses (Ab1, Ab2, and Ab3) in terms of poly-, mono-, and autospecificities for the pathogenic epitope of the Tg molecule and for the idiotope of the related Ab.

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