Normal C57BL/6 bone marrow cells cultured for 3 weeks with xenogeneic thymic RNA and syngeneic C57BL/6 antigens (immunoglobulin G or red blood cells) produced anti-immunoglobulin antibody or anti-mouse red blood cell antibody (hemolysin). Addition of both xenogeneic thymic RNA and autoantigens to bone marrow cultures was necessary to elicit autosensitization. Syngeneic thymic RNA would not substitute for xenogeneic RNA.
Normal recipients inoculated with syngeneic kidney or spinal cord homogenates and xenogeneic thymic RNA developed albuminuria or motor neuropathies within 10 days. Histologic examination of tissues from these animals revealed immunoglobulin deposits on glomerular or tubular basement membranes or on myelin sheaths. These changes were not observed in tissues from control animals inoculated with only the organ homogenates.
Normal mice injected with syngeneic bone marrow cells, which had been autosensitized in vitro against kidney or spinal cord homogenates, also developed albuminuria or motor neuropathies, respectively. These abnormalities were observed only if bone marrow cells had been cultured with both xenogeneic thymic RNA and autoantigens. Histologic examination of tissues from these mice also revealed immunoglobulin deposits in kidney or spinal cord tissues. These results demonstrate that xenogeneic thymic RNA can play important roles in the formation of autoantibodies.