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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Feb 1;90(3):923-7.

Clonal expansions of activated gamma/delta T cells in recent-onset multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center, Englewood, CO 80110.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease characterized by focal demyelination of the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. Central nervous system damage appears to be mediated by infiltrating T lymphocytes and macrophages, and a central role for autoreactive CD4+ T cells has been proposed. However, the initial immune events that lead to the chronic process of MS remain unidentified. We now present evidence that a subset of T lymphocytes bearing gamma/delta T-cell antigen receptors has been activated in patients with recent-onset disease. Cells recovered from the cerebrospinal fluid of subjects with MS were cultured for short periods of time in medium supplemented with T-cell growth factors. Expansions of V delta 1 and V delta 2 T-cell receptor-bearing lymphocytes were found only in cell populations obtained from subjects with recent-onset disease. Similar populations were not expanded in subjects with chronic MS or other neurological diseases. Junctional region sequencing showed the expanded gamma/delta T cells to be oligoclonal in nature, suggestive of specific stimulation by antigen. These results reveal a fundamental difference in the immunopathogenesis of acute vs. chronic disease and provide additional insight into the autoimmune nature of MS.

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