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Blood. 2016 Oct 20;128(16):2043-2054. doi: 10.1182/blood-2015-11-682468. Epub 2016 Jul 28.

T cells from hemophilia A subjects recognize the same HLA-restricted FVIII epitope with a narrow TCR repertoire.

Author information

Bloodworks Northwest Research Institute, Seattle, WA.
Bayer Healthcare, South San Francisco, CA.
Benaroya Research Institute, Seattle, WA.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD.
Division of Hematology, Department Medicine, and.
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; and.
Blood Disorders Program, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA.


Factor VIII (FVIII)-neutralizing antibodies ("inhibitors") are a serious problem in hemophilia A (HA). The aim of this study was to characterize HLA-restricted T-cell responses from a severe HA subject with a persistent inhibitor and from 2 previously studied mild HA inhibitor subjects. Major histocompatibility complex II tetramers corresponding to both of the severe HA subject's HLA-DRA-DRB1 alleles were loaded with peptides spanning FVIII-A2, C1, and C2 domains. Interestingly, only 1 epitope was identified, in peptide FVIII2194-2213, and it was identical to the HLA-DRA*01-DRB1*01:01-restricted epitope recognized by the mild HA subjects. Multiple T-cell clones and polyclonal lines having different avidities for the peptide-loaded tetramer were isolated from all subjects. Only high- and medium-avidity T cells proliferated and secreted cytokines when stimulated with FVIII2194-2213 T-cell receptor β (TCRB) gene sequencing of 15 T-cell clones from the severe HA subject revealed that all high-avidity clones expressed the same TCRB gene. High-throughput immunosequencing of high-, medium-, and low-avidity cells sorted from a severe HA polyclonal line revealed that 94% of the high-avidity cells expressed the same TCRB gene as the high-avidity clones. TCRB sequencing of clones and lines from the mild HA subjects also identified a limited TCRB gene repertoire. These results suggest a limited number of epitopes in FVIII drive inhibitor responses and that the T-cell repertoires of FVIII-responsive T cells can be quite narrow. The limited diversity of both epitopes and TCRB gene usage suggests that targeting of specific epitopes and/or T-cell clones may be a promising approach to achieve tolerance to FVIII.

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