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Antibody responses against antibodies, such as rheumatoid factors, are found in several immunopathological diseases and may play a role in disease pathogenesis. Experience shows that they are usually difficult to induce experimentally. Antibodies specific for immunoglobulin constant regions (anti-allotypic) or for variable regions (anti-idiotypic) have been investigated in animal models; the latter have even been postulated to regulate antibody and T cell responses via network-like interactions. Why and how such anti-antibodies are induced during autoimmune diseases, has remained largely unclear. Because repetitively arranged epitopes in a paracrystalline structure of a viral envelope cross-link B cell receptors efficiently to induce a prompt T-independent IgM response, this study used immune complexes containing viruses or bacteria to evaluate the role of antigen pattern for induction of anti-antibody responses. We present evidence that antibodies bound to strictly ordered, but not to irregularly arranged, antigens dramatically enhance induction of anti-antibodies, already after a single immunization and without using adjuvants. The results indicate a novel link between anti-antibody responses and infectious agents, and suggest a similar role for repetitive self-antigens such as DNA or collagen involved in chronic immunopathological diseases.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Experimental Medicine


Rockefeller University Press

Publication Date





1785 - 1792