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Circulation. 1999 Nov 23;100(21):2135-9.

Perturbation of the T-cell repertoire in patients with unstable angina.

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Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



Monocytes are constitutively activated in unstable angina (UA), resulting in the production of IL-6 and the upregulation of acute phase proteins. Underlying mechanisms are not understood. To explore whether the production of the potent monocyte activator IFN-gamma is altered in UA, we compared cytokine production by T lymphocytes in patients with UA (Braunwald's class IIIB) and with stable angina (SA).


Peripheral blood lymphocytes were collected at the time of hospitalization and after 2 and 12 weeks. Cytokine-producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were quantified by 3-color flow cytometry after stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate and ionomycin. UA was associated with an increased number of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells producing IFN-gamma, whereas patients with SA had higher frequencies of IL-2(+) and IL-4(+) CD4(+) T cells. Expansion of the IFN-gamma( +) T-cell population in UA persisted for at least 3 months. Increased production of IFN-gamma in UA could be attributed to the expansion of an unusual subset of T cells, CD4(+)CD28(null) T cells.


Patients with UA are characterized by a perturbation of the functional T-cell repertoire with a bias toward IFN-gamma production, suggesting that monocyte activation and acute phase responses are consequences of T-cell activation. IFN-gamma is produced by CD4(+)CD28(null) T cells, which are expanded in UA and distinctly low in SA and controls. The emergence of CD4(+)CD28(null) T cells may result from persistent antigenic stimulation.

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