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J Immunol. 1996 Aug 1;157(3):1071-9.

Cross-reactivity of T cell lines and clones to beta-lactam antibiotics.

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Institute of Immunology and Allergology, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland.


To clarify on a molecular level the specific T cell response to haptens like penicillin G, we generated T cell lines and clones from penicillin-allergic patients. Two types of beta-lactam reactivity of T cells could be delineated: one group of patients showed a rather restricted specificity, as the penicillin-elicited T cell lines generated from such donors proliferated only to the stimulating penicillin, but not to other beta-lactam antibiotics nor to cephalosporines, even if the side chain was identical. This indicates that the penicilloyl structure together with the side chain was recognized by these T cells. The second group comprised patients with more broadly reactive T cells, as they were restimulated by penicillin G as well as by related penicillins like amoxicillin or ampicillin, but not cephalosporines. This indicates that the penicilloyl structure, a common motif of penicillins, was important for T cell recognition. Clones generated from a broadly reactive patient confirmed this heterogeneity, as either monospecific or broadly specific T cell clones could be identified. This broad or very restricted pattern of T cell reactivity was reflected in the use of TCR Vbeta-chains: while the broadly reactive T cell lines showed a heterogenous TCR usage, the highly restricted T cell lines showed an up-regulation of one TCR Vbeta-chain. Thus, our data suggest that the outgrowth of T cells bearing a certain TCR Vbeta may be a sign of a limited cross-reactivity.

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