We detected natural antibodies (auto-Abs) binding human granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in umbilical cord blood (CB) (23 of 94 samples screened) and peripheral blood of women at the end of pregnancy (6 of 42 samples tested). To demonstrate that Abs detected in CB were produced by the fetus, CB mononuclear cells were infected with Epstein-Barr virus in vitro. Ten cell lines producing constitutively anti-recombinant human GM-CSF (rhGM-CSF) Abs were isolated and characterized. These cells displayed a male karyotype, an early activated B cell phenotype, coexpressed surface IgM and IgD, and secreted only IgM with prevailing lambda clonal restriction. Specific cell surface binding of biotinylated rhGM-CSF and high-level anti-rhGM-CSF IgM Ab production were typical features of early cell cultures. In late cell passages the frequency of more undifferentiated B cells increased. Serum Abs of either maternal or fetal origin or Abs produced in culture did not affect the granulocyte and macrophage colony stimulating activity of rhGM-CSF from bone marrow progenitors in soft agar, suggesting that the Abs produced were nonneutralizing.
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