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J Exp Med. Jul 1, 1993; 178(1): 187–196.
PMCID: PMC2191064

Gliadin-specific, HLA-DQ(alpha 1*0501,beta 1*0201) restricted T cells isolated from the small intestinal mucosa of celiac disease patients

Abstract

Celiac disease (CD) is most probably an immunological disease, precipitated in susceptible individuals by ingestion of wheat gliadin and related proteins from other cereals. The disease shows a strong human HLA association predominantly to the cis or trans encoded HLA- DQ(alpha 1*0501,beta 1*0201) (DQ2) heterodimer. T cell recognition of gliadin presented by this DQ heterodimer may thus be of immunopathogenic importance in CD. We therefore challenged small intestinal biopsies from adult CD patients on a gluten-free diet in vitro with gluten (containing both gliadin and other wheat proteins), and isolated activated CD25+ T cells. Polyclonal T cell lines and a panel of T cell clones recognizing gluten were established. They recognized the gliadin moiety of gluten, but not proteins from other cereals. Inhibition studies with anti-HLA antibodies demonstrated predominant antigen presentation by HLA-DQ molecules. The main antigen- presenting molecule was established to be the CD-associated DQ(alpha 1*0501, beta 1*0201) heterodimer. The gluten-reactive T cell clones were CD4+, CD8-, and carried diverse combinations of T cell receptor (TCR) V alpha and V beta chains. The findings suggest preferential mucosal presentation of gluten-derived peptides by HLA-DQ(alpha 1*0501, beta 1*0201) in CD, which may explain the HLA association.

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