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Immunol Res. 1994;13(2-3):117-38.

T-cell antigen receptors in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic disease of unknown etiology characterized by chronic inflammation mainly in the joints. Several lines of evidence suggest that T cells are involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. RA is associated with certain HLA-DR alleles. Studies analyzing T-cell receptor transcripts in RA have found biased or preferential usage of certain V alpha and/or V beta gene segments by T cells infiltrating the synovial membrane or extravasating into the synovial fluid compared to peripheral blood. In certain patients few T-cell antigen receptor (TCR) clones dominated the infiltrating T cells, suggesting that T cells from the synovial membrane or the synovial fluid comprise oligoclonal populations of T cells. However, other studies have found a polyclonal population of T cells. In interpreting these results the phase of the disease (early vs. late RA), the source of T cells and the limitations of the methods used in these studies should be taken into consideration. However, it appears that synovial T cells comprise oligoclonal populations of T cells and that there is a bias towards particular TCR gene segments, although a specific TCR gene segment in RA has not emerged.

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