A previous report (G. E. Woloschak and D. Senitzer, submitted for publication) has demonstrated that mitogen-stimulated splenocytes fuse at a much higher frequency than untreated splenocytes as measured by the fusion index (a calculation of the number of nuclei in fused cells vs the total number of nuclei). A measurement of the fusion indices of NZB spleen cells provides results markedly different from those observed with splenocytes from control strains of mice-NZB spleen cells exhibit a spontaneously high fusion index. In this assay, they spontaneously display the same fusing capacity as that observed in cultures of mitogen-treated spleen cells from control strains of mice. This elevated fusion index is not affected by treatment with anti-Thy-1.2 and complement, but is abrogated by treatment with anti-immunoglobulin serum and complement. This suggests that a B cell is responsible for the high fusion index of NZB splenocytes. This high fusion index is present when using splenocytes from both male and female mice in the fusion assay, and can be observed using spleen cells from NZB mice as young as 12 days. This appears to be the result of a spontaneous polyclonal B-cell activation in NZB mice.
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