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Intramuscular plasmid DNA injection can accelerate autoimmune responses


We have investigated if the administration of plasmid vectors engineered for gene delivery into mammalian muscle induced the production of anti-double stranded (ds) DNA and anti-nuclear autoantibodies in normal and autoimmunity-prone mouse models. In normal mice, repeated injection of plasmid DNA did not trigger an anti-DNA response. The presence of eukaryotic transcription factor binding sites in plasmid vectors did not increase autoantibody formation in these animals. In contrast, repeated injection of such plasmids in autoimmunity-prone MRL/MpJ mice caused a significant increase in both anti-dsDNA and anti-nuclear antibody levels. Thus the repeated administration of bacterial plasmids containing eukaryotic promoter elements may induce immune responses with generation of antibodies cross-reacting not only with the mammalian DNA, but also with nuclear antigens. The potential for iatrogenic autoimmunity in susceptible individuals should be considered.

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MacColl, G., Bunn, C., Goldspink, G. et al. Intramuscular plasmid DNA injection can accelerate autoimmune responses. Gene Ther 8, 1354–1356 (2001).

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