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J Immunol. 1996 Dec 15;157(12):5683-8.

Specific clonal T cell accumulation in intestinal lesions of Crohn's disease.

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  • 1The Third Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


The initial cellular events that take place at the outset of autoimmune diseases and that may be the most important in terms of understanding their pathogenesis are poorly understood, especially in humans. This is mainly due to the difficulties in the identification of primary lesions and the accessibility to such material. In this respect, it is noteworthy that the appearance of small reddish erosions, known as aphthoid lesions, is known to be an early event in Crohn's disease. In the present study, accumulation of lesion-specific clonal TCR bands in the intestinal lesions of Crohn's disease patients was demonstrated by means of a highly sensitive method based on single strand conformational polymorphism. Such clonal accumulation was demonstrated in both aphthoid and discrete ulcer lesions. There were several TCR BV bands that were present in both aphthoid lesions and discrete ulcer lesions, but some were specific to the aphthoid lesions. In addition, the same aphthoid lesion-specific/dominant T cell clones were found to be expanded in separate aphthoid lesions of a single patient, and were absent from intervening, non-inflamed mucosa. Some of these bands may represent T cell clones activated primarily at the onset of disease.

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