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Immunology. 1999 Jul;97(3):420-8.

Enterobacterial infection modulates major histocompatibility complex class I expression on mononuclear cells.

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National Public Health Institute, Department in Turku, Department of Pediatrics, Turku University Central Hospital, Turku, Finland.


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I expression is reduced in several viral infections, but it is not known whether the same happens during infections caused by intracellular enterobacteria. In this study, the expression of MHC class I antigens on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 16 patients with Salmonella, Yersinia, or Klebsiella infection was investigated. During or after the acute infection, the expression of MHC class I antigens was markedly decreased in eight patients, all with genotype HLA-B27, and six out of eight with reactive arthritis (ReA). A significant decrease of monomorphic MHC class I was found in three patients, of HLA-B27 in eight (P<0.05) and of HLA-A2 in two. However, patients negative for the HLA-B27 genotype, or healthy HLA-B27-positive individuals, did not have a significant decrease of MHC class I antigens. During the decreased expression on the cell surface, intracellular retention of MHC class I antigens was observed, whereas HLA-B27 mRNA levels did not vary significantly. This is the first evidence that enterobacterial infection may down-regulate expression of MHC class I molecules in vivo and that down-regulation is predominant in patients with the HLA-B27 genotype.

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