We investigated the possible role of idiotypic interactions in the pathogenesis of the glomerular lesions observed in mice undergoing polyclonal B cell activation. BALB/c mice were studied for the presence of renal deposits of T15 idiotype-anti-T15 idiotype-immune complexes (IC) after injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The T15 idiotype is the major idiotype of BALB/c mice anti-phosphorylcholine (PC) antibodies, which are cross-reactive with the idiotype of the TEPC-15 myeloma protein. This model was used because T15 idiotype-anti-T15 idiotype IC have been detected in the circulation of BALB/c mice after polyclonal B cell activation. First, an idiotype-specific immunofluorescence technique allowed us to detect T15 idiotype-bearing immunoglobulins in glomeruli from day 6 to day 28 after LPS injection. Second, fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated TEPC-15 myeloma protein was found to localize in the glomeruli after in vivo injection 18 d after LPS administration. This renal localization was shown to be idiotype-specific and could be quantified in a trace-labeling experiment. Third, kidney-deposited immunoglobulins of mice injected with LPS were eluted, radiolabeled, and analyzed by radioimmunoassay. Both T15 idiotype-bearing immunoglobulins and anti-T15 idiotype antibodies were detected in the eluates, providing further evidence for a renal deposition of T15 idiotype-anti-T15 idiotype IC. Polyclonal B cell activation is likely to result in a simultaneous triggering of many idiotypic clones and of corresponding anti-idiotypic clones represented in the B cell repertoire. This could lead to the formation of a variety of idiotype-anti-idiotype IC that could participate in the development of glomerular lesions.

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