The proliferation of peripheral blood lymphocytes, cultured with Con A, can be inhibited by ionizing radiation. Lymphocytes from patients with conditions associated with autoimmunity, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and polymyositis, are more radiosensitive than those from healthy volunteers or patients with conditions not associated with autoimmunity. Nuclear material isolated from the lymphocytes of patients with autoimmune diseases is, on average, lighter in density than the nuclear material from most healthy controls. This difference in density is not related to increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation but the degree of post-irradiation change in density (lightening) is proportional to the initial density, i.e. more dense nuclear material always shows a greater upward shift after radiation. The recovery of pre-irradiation density of nuclear material, 1 h after radiation exposure, taken as an indication of DNA repair, correlates with the radiosensitivity of lymphocyte proliferation (Con A response); failure to return to pre-irradiation density being associated with increased sensitivity of proliferative response. These results require extension but, taken with previously reported studied of the effects of DNA methylating agents, support the idea that DNA damage and its defective repair could be important in the aetio-pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.
Harris, G;  Cramp, W A; Edwards, J C; George, A M; Sabovljev, S A; Hart, L; Hughes, G R.V.;  Denman, A M;  Yatvin, M B 
- Kennedy Inst. of Rheumatology, London (UK). Div. of Experimental Pathology
- Hammersmith Hospital, London (UK)
- Northwich Park Hospital, Harrow (UK)
- Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center, Madison (USA)