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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

T cells ignore aniline, a prohapten, but respond to its reactive metabolites generated by phagocytes: possible implications for the pathogenesis of toxic oil syndrome.

The most basic arylamine, aniline, belongs to a class of compounds notorious for inducing allergic and autoimmune reactions. In 1981 in Spain, many people succumbed to toxic oil syndrome (TOS), a disease caused by ingestion of cooking oil contaminated with aniline. Indirect evidence points toward an immune pathogenesis of TOS driven by T lymphocytes, but it is unclear to which antigens these cells could react. Here, using the popliteal lymph node (PLN) assay in mice, we analyzed the sensitizing potential of aniline, its metabolites, and some of the aniline-coupled lipids detected in the contaminated cooking oil. Whereas aniline itself and its non-protein-reactive metabolites nitrobenzene, p-aminophenol and N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, failed to elicit PLN responses, its reactive metabolites nitrosobenzene and N-hydroxylaniline did. The aniline-coupled lipids, namely, linoleic anilide and linolenic anilide, and a mixture of fatty acid esters of 3-(N-phenylamino)-1,2-propanediol, all implicated in TOS, induced significant PLN responses, whereas the respective aniline-free lipids, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and triolein, did not. Hence, the aniline moiety plays a crucial role in the immunogenicity of the aniline-coupled lipids of TOS. PLN responses to the reactive aniline metabolites and the one aniline-coupled lipid that was tested, linolenic anilide, were T-cell-dependent. Secondary PLN responses to nitrosobenzene were detectable not only after priming with nitrosobenzene but, in some experiments, also after priming with linolenic anilide. This suggests that the aniline moiety was cleaved from the aniline-coupled lipid and metabolized to the intermediate nitrosobenzene that generated the prospective neoantigens. Consistent with this, in lymphocyte proliferation tests in vitro, T cells primed to nitrosobenzene reacted in anamnestic fashion to white bone marrow cells (WBMCs) pulsed with aniline. Hence, we propose that aniline is a prohapten that can be metabolized by WBMCs, which form neoantigens that are recognized by T cells. The possible significance of these findings for the pathogenesis of TOS is discussed.[1]


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