A newly discovered autosomal recessive mutation, generalized lymphoproliferative disease (gld), in the C3H/HeJ strain of mice, determines the development of early onset massive lymphoid hyperplasia with autoimmunity. Significant lymph node enlargement is apparent as early as 12 wk of age. By 20 wk, lymph nodes are 50-fold heavier than those of coisogenic C3H/HeJ-+/+ mice. There is a concomitant increase in the numbers of peripheral blood lymphocytes. Analysis of C3H-gld lymph node lymphocyte subsets by immunofluorescence indicates an increase in numbers of B cells, T cells, and null (Thy-1-, sIg-) lymphocytes by 6-, 15-, and 33-fold compared with congeneic control mice. Serologically, gld/gld mice develop antinuclear antibodies (including anti-dsDNA), thymocyte-binding autoantibody, and hypergammaglobulinemia with major increases in several immunoglobulin isotypes. Mutant gld mice live only one-half as long as normal controls (12 and 23 mo, respectively). Interstitial pneumonitis was found in virtually all C3H-gld mice autopsied when moribund. Although immune complexes were detected in the glomerulus by immunofluorescence techniques, only 14% of the autopsied mice had significant lupus-like nephritis. Vascular disease was not found. The pattern of early onset massive lymph node enlargement, hypergammaglobulinemia, and production of antinuclear autoantibodies resembles the basic abnormal phenotype induced by the lpr (lymphoproliferation) mutation. The mutations gld and lpr are not allelic. Linkage studies indicate that gld is located between Pep-3 and Lp on chromosome 1. This new mutation adds another genetically well-defined model to the list of murine lymphoproliferative/autoimmune disorders that may be exploited to gain a clearer understanding of immunoregulatory defects and for identifying common pathogenetic factors involved in systemic autoimmune diseases.

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