Hybridomas have been prepared from active B cells in lymphoid tissue draining lesions of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), by fusion of fresh mesenteric lymph node suspensions with the murine JK myeloma. Two hundred and fifty nine immunoglobulin secreting hybridomas have been obtained from nine patients. The antibodies have been screened for binding to food antigens, sections of human gut, and bacteria including two unidentified acid fast isolates from CD lymph nodes. Autoantibodies, and antibodies to food antigens implicated by others in the aetiology of CD were rare, comprising 1.2%, and 2.5% respectively. Most donors yielded none of these. Thus neither food antigens nor autoantigens are major antigenic stimuli in nodes draining inflammatory bowel disease. On the other hand between 19% and 83% of supernatants from different donors bound to one or more bacterial genus. The mycobacteria and the CD isolates were amongst the genera to which most antibodies bound, though binding to E coli was more frequent. Significantly more CD than UC derived supernatants bound to BCG. As mycobacteria are not though to be part of the normal bowel flora, the high percentage of hybridomas secreting antibodies which bind to this genus is surprising.
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