Are Retroviruses Involved in the Pathogenesis of Autoimmune Diseases?

  • E. F. Krapf
Conference paper


Large portions of mammalian genomes consist of DNA sequences originally derived from retroviruses during ontogenesis. The majority of these retroviral sequences are non-infectious. However, during the past few years, evidence has been gained for the hypothesis that retroviral sequences or their products might play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases (Table 1). The question
Table 1

Indications for retroviruses in autoimmune diseases



Melors and Mellors [25a]

Anti-type C-RV antibodies in SLE patients

Okamoto et al. [27]

Antibodies against endogenous RV-polymerase in human SLE

Rucheton et al. [38]

Antibodies against p30 gag in patients with SLE and MCTD

Shirai et al. [42]

Anti-gp 70 antibody is correlated with autoantibody production and SLE-like disease in mice

Denman, 1986:

Unusual interferons are found in SLE and AIDS patients

Olsen et al. [28]

HTLV 1 antigenic determinants expressed in PBL of SLE patients

Keene, 1987:

U1 RNP-associated p70 contains the immunodominant epitope of p30 gag: p30 gag provokes autoantibodies

Volk et al. [49b]

The number of activated CD 5+ B cells is elevated in SLE and AIDS patients

Via et al. [49a]

Autoreactive B cell clones may be triggered by viruses and maintained by defective CTL

Reddy et al. [36a]

Amplification and molecular cloning of HTLV 1 sequences from DNA of multiple sclerosis patients

Talal et al. [46, 47]

Thirty percent of patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome and 36% of SLE patients show antibody reactivity against p24 core rotein of HIV Ia

a Was not confirmed by Krapf et al. [20] Venables (personal communication) and Krieg

(personal communication)

Table 2

Immunologic features in HIV 1-infected persons (modified from [54])

Follicular hyperplasia

Loss of dendritic cells

Progressive lymphoid atrophy


Circulating immune complexes

Acid-labile serum interferon

Increased lymphokine production

Depletion of CD 4 lymphocytes

Impaired alpha IF production

Antibodies against myelin basic protein in sera and cerebrospinal fluid

Table 3

Rheumatic manifestations of human immunodeficiency virus infection (according to [10a])


Reactive arthritis

HLA B 27-related Reiter’s syndrome

Non-HLA B 27-related Reiter’s syndrome

HIV-associated arthropathy

Psoriatic arthritis

Polymyositis, dermatomyositis

Sjögren’s syndrome

Necrotizing vasculitis

Other connective tissue disorders

now arises whether newly discovered infectious retroviruses might induce autoimmune diseases. Many autoimmune features of HIV 1 infection point to this possibility (Table 2, 3).


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Mixed Connective Tissue Disease Mixed Cryoglobulinemia Human Autoimmune Disease Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. F. Krapf
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine IIIFriedrich Alexander University Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany

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