The recovery process in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in Lewis rats is characterized by an increasing diversity of T cell clones directed at secondary epitopes of myelin basic protein. Of particular interest, residues 55 to 69 of guinea pig basic protein could induce protection against EAE. A nonencephalitogenic T cell clone, C455-69, that was specific for this epitope transferred protection against both active and passive EAE. Clone C4 was found to express V beta 8.6 in its Ag receptor, and residues 39 to 59 of the TCR V beta 8.6 sequence were found to be highly crossreactive with the corresponding residues 39 to 59 of TCR V beta 8.2, which is known to induce protective anti-idiotypic T cells and antibodies. Like the TCR V beta 8.2 peptide, the V beta 8.6 sequence induced autoregulation and provided effective treatment of established EAE. Thus, the EAE-protective effect of the guinea pig basic protein 55-69 sequence was most likely mediated by T cell clones such as C4 that could efficiently induce anti-TCR immunity directed at a cross-reactive regulatory idiotope.

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