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Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1992 May;63(2):135-41.

T and B cell responses to neutrophil cytoplasmic antigens in systemic vasculitis.

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Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, United Kingdom.


The systemic vasculitides (SV) are characterized by the presence of autoantibodies to neutrophil cytoplasmic antigens (ANCA). The role of T cells in SV is uncertain. We studied human and murine T cell responses to human neutrophil cytoplasmic antigens in vitro. T cells from mice immunized with the neutrophil extract showed dose-dependent antigen-specific proliferation, restricted by the MHC class II E molecule. Myeloperoxidase (MPO) was not an important target antigen for murine T cells. Peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) were obtained from 36 patients with SV, 31 before the start of immunosuppressive therapy, and from 11 healthy controls. T cell responses to the neutrophil extract in vitro did not differ between patients and controls: there were only low levels of antigen-specific proliferation, and this could not be amplified by in vitro selection. In 3 patients and 2 normals, PBLs were also tested after the depletion of CD8+ cells; this did not unmask T cell reactivity to neutrophil extract. The lack of demonstrable T cell reactivity to this antigen preparation may indicate that T cells do not play an important effector role in these diseases. A solid-phase spot ELISA was adapted to demonstrate autoantibody-producing B cells in vitro. Low numbers of ANCA-producing B cells could be demonstrated in the majority of patients. B cells producing antibody to MPO could be demonstrated in most patients and in three laboratory staff, but not in normals from outside the laboratory. In 2 patients, sequential B cell spot ELISAs were performed during the introduction of therapy, and autoantibody-producing B cells rapidly decreased in number. This assay may therefore be useful in monitoring the effects of treatment at the cellular level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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