Outbred Wistar rats immunized with native type II collagen developed ear lesions resembling those of human relapsing chondritis. As in human disease, these lesions were characterized by intense chondritis, positive immunofluorescence reactions to IgG and C3, and circulating IgG reactive with native type II collagen. Furthermore, electron-dense deposits were seen near the surface of chondrocytes and corresponded with deposits of IgG and C3. These observations suggest a causal relation between humoral immunity to type II collagen and auricular chondritis in the rat and support the hypothesis than human relapsing polychondritis is an autoimmune disease mediated by immunity to type II collagen.

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