The onset of lupus-like disease in NZB/NZW F1 mice was correlated with the expression of IL-10 at 4 m of age, and with a sequential enhanced expression of IFN-γ and IL-6 between 6 to 8 m of age. The expression of IFN- γ and IL-6 was associated with exacerbation of disease symptom, production of anti-DNA antibody, and increase in total serum IgG1. Exogenous dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) given in animal diet significantly prolonged survival, and delayed formation of autoantibody of NZB/NZW F1 mice as compared to mice fed on control diet. The effect of DHEA paralleled a delay in the expression of IL-10 and IL-6 and an earlier detection of IL-12 transcripts. Moreover, DHEA-fed mice had higher serum IgG2a level than control diet-fed mice. Collectively, DHEA may modify the activation of distinct subset of T helper cells in NZB/NZW F1 mice at different phases of disease progression.
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