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Exp Dermatol. 2002 Aug;11(4):357-64.

Epidermal CD8+ T cells reactive with group A streptococcal antigens in chronic plaque psoriasis.

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Dermatology Research, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, St. Mary's campus, London, UK.


Chronic plaque psoriasis is a T cell mediated disease associated with group A streptococci (GAS). We have previously shown the presence of a psoriasis-specific dermal Th1 subset that recognizes GAS antigens. To assess whether GAS-reactive T cells are also present in lesional epidermis, fresh cell suspensions or T cell lines isolated from lesional epidermis of 33 psoriasis patients were stained for intracellular interferon-gamma after stimulation with GAS antigens. The patients were typed by PCR for HLA-DR7 and HLA-Cw6 expression. A subset of GAS-reactive CD8+ T cells (2.4% +/- 2.4) was found in 14/21 (67%) fresh cell suspensions. A smaller subset of GAS-reactive CD4+ T cells (0.9% +/- 0.9) was found in 13/21 (62%) fresh cell suspensions, which was expanded in the T cell lines. There was a significant inverse correlation between the proportions of GAS-reactive CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the fresh suspensions (r = -0.48, P = 0.0277). The presence of GAS-reactive CD4+ or CD8+ T cells did not correlate with HLA-DR7 or HLA-Cw6 expression, respectively. This study has demonstrated GAS-reactive CD8+, and to a lesser extent CD4+, T cell subsets in psoriatic epidermis and provides further evidence that GAS antigens may play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic plaque psoriasis.

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