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J Leukoc Biol. 1993 Nov;54(5):399-406.

Cell contact between T cells and synovial fibroblasts causes induction of adhesion molecules and cytokines.

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Institute for Inflammation and Autoimmunity, Miles Research Center, West Haven, Connecticut 06516.


Human activated T cells adhere to synovial fibroblast-like cells in vitro. The present study was conducted to investigate the consequences of T cell-synovial fibroblast interactions with regard to induction of adhesion molecules and proinflammatory cytokines. A sensitive Western blot technique, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification, and fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) analysis were used to analyze the induction of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression in T cell-synovial fibroblast cocultures. VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression could be induced in synovial fibroblast-like cells by 2 h. PCR amplification showed that both forms of VCAM-1 mRNA are found after the interaction of synovial fibroblasts with T cells. Up-regulation of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 was confined to synovial fibroblasts; T cells did not express VCAM-1 or increased ICAM-1. In contrast to the T cell-synoviocyte interaction, the interaction between T cells and dermal fibroblasts resulted in the up-regulation of ICAM-1 but not VCAM-1, suggesting tissue-specific regulation of VCAM-1. The T cell-synovial fibroblast interaction also resulted in increased levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interferon-gamma, and interleukin-6 in coculture supernatant. Of the neutralizing antibodies used against these cytokines, only anti-TNF could significantly inhibit VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 expression. When T cells were separated from synoviocytes by a chamber that allowed medium exchange but no cell contact, VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 failed to be up-regulated and cytokine accumulation in cocultures was drastically reduced. Our results demonstrate mutual cell activation of T cells and synoviocytes upon cell contact as shown by the release of T cell- and synoviocyte-specific cytokines and suggest a cell contact-mediated and T cell-initiated mechanism for the chronic accumulation and retention of mononuclear cells via VCAM-1/ICAM-1 by synovial fibroblasts in the rheumatoid synovium.

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