This report clearly demonstrates that a systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-like syndrome and lymphoma can be induced in immunologically normal (BALB/c x NZB)F1 mice by infection of neonates with a murine leukemia virus (MuLV) (Scripps leukemia virus [SLV] 60A) isolated from NZB lymphoblasts. SLV 60A was titered in vitro (XC test) and administered to newborn and adult (BALB/c x NZB)F1 mice over six log10 dilutions. Propagation of MuLV in the newborn recipients was indicated by greatly elevated serum Mu gs-1 levels which were proportional to the dose of virus given.
The SLE-like syndrome was characterized by antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and immune complex-type glomerulonephritis. ANA production was related to the dose of virus and reached the highest levels at 8–16 wk. The incidence of glomerulonephritis was also correlated with the dose of virus and reached nearly 50% in the animals given the highest virus dose. Both titers of ANA and incidence of glomerulonephritis were greater in females than in males, although the amounts of Mu gs-1 in sera of both sexes were equal. The incidence of direct Coombs' positivity was not significantly affected by inoculation of this virus.
The incidence and time of onset of thymocytic lymphoma were linearly related to the amount of virus inoculated. High serum Mu gs-1 levels predicted lymphoma development and reflected increases in the amount of infectious virus in the spleen. No induction of tumors, autoimmunity, or high serum Mu gs-1 levels followed administration of SLV 60A to 6-wk old (BALB/c x NZB)F1 mice or inactivated 60A or active AKR virus to newborns.