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Leuk Res. 2001 Dec;25(12):1075-83.

Oligoclonal T cell expansion in myelodysplastic syndrome: evidence for an autoimmune process.

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Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institute of Health, 2000 Rockville Pike, Building 10, Rm. 7C 103, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


There is accumulating evidence that the marrow-failure of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is immune-mediated. We studied patients with MDS to look for oligoclonal or clonal expansion in T cells indicative of an autoimmune process. We used a PCR-based technique (spectratyping) to characterize the T cell repertoire in MDS (n=15; 9 RA, 4 RARS, 2 RAEB) and compared results with age-matched healthy donors (n=20) and transfusion-dependent (TD) patients with hemoglobinopathy (n=5). We found a significantly higher number of skewed Vbeta profiles in the MDS patients compared with controls. In peripheral blood T cells, 60/345 Vbeta profiles examined were skewed in MDS patients compared with 3/115 Vbeta profiles in TD controls (P<0.0001), and 58/460 Vbeta profiles in age-matched controls (P=0.05). A study of Jbeta region within the skewed Vbeta profiles revealed preferential usage of Jbeta 2.1 in MDS in contrast with a wide distribution over the entire Jbeta spectrum in controls, consistent with non-random T cell clonal expansion in MDS. These findings provide further evidence that T cell mediated immune processes are a feature of MDS.

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