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Lupus. 2001;10(5):321-31.

CD4 positive peripheral T cells from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are clonally expanded.

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Institute of Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine III, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.


T cell activation was analysed in peripheral CD4+ T cells from both systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with active and inactive disease as well as in normal healthy donors (NHD) to investigate the involvement of CD4+ T cells in the etiopathogenesis of SLE. CD4+ T cell receptor (TCR) beta-chain transcripts, containing the complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3), were amplified by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and analysed by high-resolution polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In addition the CDR3 of both clonally activated as well as heterogeneous Vbeta families from SLE patients were analysed at the molecular level. We observed a restricted CDR3 length polymorphism in peripheral CD4+ T cells from SLE patients compared with NHD, more pronounced in patients with high disease activity. Furthermore, in some Vbeta families single peaks in the histogram indicated nearly monoclonal T cell expansion. Sequencing of selected TCR beta-chains revealed a increased content of acidic amino acids in the CDR3 encoded by either proximal Jbeta elements or N nucleotides. We conclude that CD4+ T cells from peripheral blood of SLE patients display features of a secondary antigen driven immune response. The bias of the CDR3 towards acidic amino acids suggests the involvement of positively charged antigens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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