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J Immunol. 2008 Oct 15;181(8):5233-41.

Differential pathways govern CD4+ CD28- T cell proinflammatory and effector responses in patients with coronary artery disease.

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Division of Cardiac and Vascular Sciences, St. George's University of London, London, United Kingdom.


Patients with acute coronary syndromes experience circulatory and intraplaque expansion of an aggressive and unusual CD4(+) lymphocyte subpopulation lacking the CD28 receptor. These CD4(+)CD28(-) cells produce IFN-gamma and perforin, and are thought to play an important role in coronary atheromatous plaque destabilization. Aberrant expression of killer Ig-like receptors (KIRs) in CD4(+)CD28(-) cells is broadly thought to be responsible for their cytotoxicity, but the mechanisms involved remain poorly defined. We therefore sought to investigate the mechanism and regulation of CD4(+)CD28(-) cell functionality using T cell clones (n = 536) established from patients with coronary artery disease (n = 12) and healthy volunteers (n = 3). Our functional studies demonstrated that KIR2DS2 specifically interacted with MHC class I-presenting human heat shock protein 60 (hHSP60) inducing cytotoxicity. Further investigations revealed the novel finding that hHSP60 stimulation of TCR alone could not induce a cytotoxic response, and that this response was specific and KIR dependent. Analysis of CD4(+)CD28(-)2DS2(+) clones (n = 162) showed that not all were hHSP60 cytotoxic; albeit, their prevalence correlated with coronary disease status (p = 0.017). A higher proportion of clones responded to hHSP60 by IFN-gamma compared with perforin (p = 0.008). In this study, for the first time, we define the differential regulatory pathways involved in CD4(+)CD28(-) cell proinflammatory and effector responses. We describe in this study that, contrary to previous reports, CD4(+)CD28(-) cell recognition and killing can be specific and discriminate. These results, in addition to contributing to the understanding of CD4(+)CD28(-) cell functionality, may have implications for the monitoring and management of coronary artery disease progression.

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