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Scand J Immunol. 1997 Aug;46(2):187-94.

Reactivity patterns of synovial T-cell lines derived from a patient with rheumatoid arthritis. I. Reactions with defined antigens and auto-antigens suggest the existence of multireactive T-cell clones.

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Clinical Research Unit for Rheumatology, University of Freiburg Medical Center, Germany.


The functional T-cell repertoire in the inflamed joint of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis was analysed at the clonal level. Using limiting dilution techniques and selecting for growth of in vivo activated and/or autoreactive T cells, 149 T-cell lines were established. They were tested in a proliferation assay for reactivity against an autologous Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed B-cell line and a panel of auto-antigens and foreign antigens. Seventy-five lines (approximately 50%) could be stimulated. Thirty-six lines (approximately 24%) were antigen-reactive. They were stimulated by human collagens type I (15), II (10), IV (7) or V (4), cartilage proteoglycans (4), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (15), the 60 kDa heat-shock protein of M. bovis (13) or tetanus toxoid (10). T-cell lines were either monoreactive (19), bireactive (6), or multireactive (11), i.e. they were stimulated by either one, by two, or by more antigens in the panel. About half of the antigen-reactive lines were at the same time autoreactive towards the autologous B-cell line. These data suggest the existence of multispecific autoreactive T-cell receptors comparable to multireactive or natural autoantibodies and prove the presence of autoantigen-reactive T cells in the inflamed joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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