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Autoreactive cell lines were generated from cell suspensions of freshly isolated naive monkey lymph node (LN) cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells by cocultivation with freeze-thawed Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes (Bb/FT). These cells produced interleukin (IL)-6 when cocultured with autologous antigen-presenting cells (APCs) alone without Bb/FT. IL-6 production was not observed when control cell lines were stimulated in the same fashion. CD4+-enriched T cell populations obtained from the LN autoreactive cell line also produced IL-6 when cultivated with APCs alone. When these cells were cultivated further in the presence of APCs, a population of cells whose phenotype was CD56+/-CD4-CD8-CD3- was predominantly selected. These cells both proliferated and produced IL-6 when cocultured with APCs alone. The possible relevance of these cells to
Lyme disease pathogenesis remains to be determined.