Fusion proteins consisting of an Ig containing xenogenic constant regions and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (Id-GM-CSF) are potent immunogens capable of inducing anti-idiotypic Abs after two immunizations, without the usual need for adjuvants or carrier proteins. In this study, we investigated the effects of hyperimmunization with Id-GM-CSF and found that it induces anti-GM-CSF Abs that could bind to GM-CSF and neutralize its bioactivity in vitro. However, no detrimental effects of the anti-GM-CSF activity were apparent on the general health of the animals or on their base line white blood cell counts. Mice with the anti-GM-CSF activity reconstituted their peripheral white blood cells with identical kinetics as control mice after high dose cyclophosphamide treatment, sublethal irradiation, or lethal irradiation followed by syngeneic bone marrow transplantation. Primary and secondary Ab responses to a variety of protein Ags, including an unrelated Ig Id, were not affected. However, the anti-Id response induced by an unrelated GM-CSF fusion protein that is dependent upon the GM-CSF bioactivity was impaired. To avoid any potential problems associated with inducing anti-GM-CSF Abs, we show that priming with the Id-GM-CSF protein and boosting with the Id protein alone were sufficient to induce comparable anti-Id titers without inducing anti-GM-CSF Abs. We conclude that although hyperimmunization of mice with the GM-CSF fusion protein induced neutralizing anti-GM-CSF Abs, this was of little consequence to the animals. Nevertheless, we have devised a strategy to overcome this potential limitation on the use of GM-CSF fusion proteins for immunization.

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