In the blood of normal individuals one finds lympho-cyte-specific antibodies which, under certain conditions, may be cytotoxic to all, or to subpopulations of, lymphocytes. These antibodies are part of the natural antibodies found in nonimmunized individuals. The significance of these antibodies is not clear, but their presence may induce acute rejection of a transplanted tissue. Autologous antibodies against lymphocytes seem to be induced by virus infections. They also occur in increased frequency in autoimmune disease (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis), cancer, and in patients exposed to alloantigen, such as multiple transplanted uremic patients, multiparous dialysis patients, hemophiliacs and male homosexuals. A large percentage of patients with Behcet's syndrome have lymphocytotoxic antibodies, as do some of their healthy children. The presence of lymphocyte-
specific antibodies in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is associated with increased risk for developing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Such antibodies may have been produced as a result of an immune response against lymphocyte-bound HIV determinants (such as gp41) and may directly cause the lymphopenia in AIDS patients. Autoantibodies to CD4, found in some HIV patients, do not however appear to have a prognostic significance. Autoantibodies to the GM3 ganglioside on AIDS patients' lymphocytes have been detected which do not bind to normal GM3.
Sera with natural lymphocytotoxic antibodies to heterologous cells have not been used therapeutically but may have an experimental value. For instance, natural thymocytotoxic antibodies from rabbits have been used in experiments on guinea pigs to deplete thymus cells of immature populations.
See also: Antiserum; Bone marrow and hematopo-iesis; CD antigens; Graft rejection; Graft-versus-host reaction; Immunosuppression; Lymphocytes; Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs); Natural antibodies; Plasma; Serum sickness; Transplantation.
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