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Arthritis Res. 2002;4 Suppl 3:S197-211. Epub 2002 May 9.

Studies of T-cell activation in chronic inflammation.

Author information

1
The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology Division, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK. andrew.cope@ic.ac.uk

Abstract

The strong association between specific alleles encoded within the MHC class II region and the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has provided the best evidence to date that CD4+ T cells play a role in the pathogenesis of this chronic inflammatory disease. However, the unusual phenotype of synovial T cells, including their profound proliferative hyporesponsiveness to TCR ligation, has challenged the notion that T-cell effector responses are driven by cognate cartilage antigens in inflamed synovial joints. The hierarchy of T-cell dysfunction from peripheral blood to inflamed joint suggests that these defects are acquired through prolonged exposure to proinflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. Indeed, there are now compelling data to suggest that chronic cytokine activation may contribute substantially to the phenotype and effector function of synovial T cells. Studies reveal that chronic exposure of T cells to TNF uncouples TCR signal transduction pathways by impairing the assembly and stability of the TCR/CD3 complex at the cell surface. Despite this membrane-proximal effect, TNF selectively uncouples downstream signalling pathways, as is shown by the dramatic suppression of calcium signalling responses, while Ras/ERK activation is spared. On the basis of these data, it is proposed that T-cell survival and effector responses are driven by antigen-independent, cytokine-dependent mechanisms, and that therapeutic strategies that seek to restore T-cell homeostasis rather than further depress T-cell function should be explored in the future.

PMID:
12110140
PMCID:
PMC3240133
DOI:
10.1186/ar557
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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