Autoimmune diseases are known to be induced in some donor-recipient combinations of mice undergoing the graft-vs-host reaction (GVHR). In this paper, we report on the development of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)-like hepatic lesions and also on pancreatic insulitis in (B6 x bm12)F1 mice injected with B6 CD4+ T cells. At the sites of these lesions, cellular infiltration around ductal structure was observed. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were present in the lesions of the liver and pancreas. To clarify the role of the CD8+ T cells, which were probably of host origin, we used a mAb against the Lyt-2 molecule. Both the PBC-like hepatic lesions and pancreatic insulitis were exacerbated by eliminating CD8+ T cells from mice with MHC class II GVHR. Also, autoantibodies against the pyruvate dehydrogenase-E2 component, which has been recently found to contain an immunodominant site (autoepitope) for B cell reactivity in patients with PBC, were detected in the sera of these mice by ELISA and their presence was confirmed by immunoblotting procedures. Our findings suggest that similar mechanisms as in GVHR caused by MHC class II disparity are active in the development of PBC. It should also be noted that, in addition to the hepatic lesions, insulitis closely resembling that seen in the nonobese diabetic mouse was induced in our experimental system. The results suggest that our model provides a unique opportunity to study organ-specific autoimmune diseases. Because the effector in our experimental system was defined to be CD4+ T cells responding to Iabm12 Ag, our findings support the hypothesis that an excessive immune response directed against Ia Ag can produce autoimmune disease.

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