A quantitative analysis of the frequencies of autoantibody-producing B cells in GVHD and in normal mice has been undertaken by generating collections of hybridomas of activated B cells. These hybridomas secreted sufficient quantities of Ig to allow binding analyses on a panel of autoantigens. B cells have been activated in a variety of ways. In vivo they were activated by injection of alloreactive T cells of one parent, leading to GVHD by a foreign antigen, sheep erythrocytes, in a secondary response, or by the polyclonal activator LPS. B cells from an experimentally unstimulated animal were used for an analysis of the normal background. In vitro B cells were activated by alloreactive T cells or by LPS. The frequencies of hybridomas and, therefore, of activated B cells producing autoantibodies to DNA or to kidney were not significantly different in mice activated by a graft-vs.-host T cell response as compared with B cell populations activated by any of the other procedures. They were found to compose 7.1-17.1% of the total repertoire of activated B cells. Moreover, the frequencies of autoantibody-producing activated B cells does not change with time after induction of the graft-vs.-host reaction. The pattern and frequencies of autoantigen-binding specificities to cytoskeleton, smooth muscle, nuclei, mitochondria, and DNA were not found to be different in any of the groups of hybridomas. The single notable exception, found in GVHD mice, were hybridomas producing autoantibodies to kidney proximal tubular brush border. These results allow the conclusion that autoantigen-binding B cells exist in an activated state in GVHD mice, as well as in mice activated by a foreign antigen or by a polyclonal activator, in B cell populations activated in vitro either by alloreactive T cells or by a polyclonal activator, and even in the background of experimentally unstimulated animals. T cell-mediated graft-vs.-host activation, in large part, does not lead to a selective expansion of autoantigen-binding B cells. The main difference between the graft-vs.-host-activated B cell repertoire and all others is that approximately 90% of teh autoantibodies were of the IgG class, whereas al autoantibodies found in the other groups were IgM.

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