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1.  Multiple mechanisms support oligoclonal T cell expansion in rheumatoid synovitis. 
Molecular Medicine  1997;3(7):452-465.
BACKGROUND: The synovial T cell infiltrate in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is diverse but contains clonally expanded CD4+ populations. Recent reports have emphasized that RA patients have a tendency to develop CD4+ T cell oligoclonality which also manifests in the peripheral blood. Clonal dominance in the tissue may thus result from antigen specific stimulation in the synovial membrane or may reflect the infiltration of expanded clonotypes present throughout the lymphoid system. We have explored to what extent clonal populations amongst tissue CD4+ T cells display joint specificity as defined by their restriction to the joint, their persistence over time, and their expression of markers indicative for local activation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Matched samples of peripheral blood and synovial fluid or synovial tissue were collected from 14 patients with active RA and CD4+ IL-2R+ and CD4+ IL-2R- T cells from both compartments were purified. Clonal populations of CD4+ T cells were detected by RT-PCR amplification of T cell receptor (TCR) transcripts with BV and BJ specific primers followed by size fractionation and direct sequencing of dominant size classes of TCR transcripts. RESULTS: Clonal CD4+ T cells were detected in the synovial fluid and synovial tissue of all patients. All patients carried synovial clonotypes that were undetectable in the blood but were present in independent joints or at several non-adjacent areas of the same joint. These joint restricted CD4+ clonotypes were generally small in size, were preferentially found in the IL-2R+ subpopulation, and persisted over time. A second type of clonogenic T cells in the synovial infiltrate had an unrestricted tissue distribution and was present at similar frequencies amongst activated and nonactivated T cells in the blood and affected joints. Ubiquitous clonotypes isolated from two different patients expressed sequence homologies of the TCR beta chain. CONCLUSIONS: Two types of expanded CD4+ clonotypes contribute to the T cell infiltrate in rheumatoid synovitis. Differences in the distribution pattern and in molecular features suggest that distinct mechanisms are supporting the clonal outgrowth of these two groups of clonotypes. Clonally expanded T cells restricted to the joint but present in several independent joints appear to respond to locally residing antigens. Clonogenic cells with an unrestricted distribution pattern and widespread activation in the blood and tissue may react to a different class of antigens which appear to be shared by multiple patients. T cell recognition in RA may be involved at several different levels and may be related to more than one pathomechanism.
PMCID: PMC2230222  PMID: 9260157
2.  Dominant clonotypes in the repertoire of peripheral CD4+ T cells in rheumatoid arthritis. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1994;94(5):2068-2076.
Clonal expansion of T cell specificities in the synovial fluid of patients has been taken as evidence for a local stimulation of T cells. By studying the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of CD4+ T cells in the synovial and peripheral blood compartments of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we have identified clonally expanded CD4+ populations. Expanded clonotypes were present in the peripheral blood and the synovial fluid but were not preferentially accumulated in the joint. Dominant single clonotypes could not be isolated from CD4+ cells of HLA-DRB1*04+ normal individuals. Clonal expansion involved several distinct clonotypes with a preference for V beta 3+, V beta 14+, and V beta 17+CD4+ T cells. A fraction of clonally related T cells expressed IL-2 receptors, indicating recent activation. The frequencies of clonally expanded V beta 17+CD4+ T cells fluctuated widely over a period of one year. Independent variations in the frequencies of two distinct clonotypes in the same patient indicated that different mechanisms, and not stimulation by a single arthritogenic antigen, were involved in clonal proliferation. These data support the concept that RA patients have a grossly imbalanced TCR repertoire. Clonal expansion may result from intrinsic defects in T cell generation and regulation. The dominance of expanded clonotypes in the periphery emphasizes the systemic nature of RA and suggests that T cell proliferation occurs outside of the joint.
PMCID: PMC294644  PMID: 7962553
3.  CD4 T cells in the rheumatoid joint are oligoclonally activated and change during the course of disease. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1995;54(4):314-317.
OBJECTIVE--To assess the nature of T cell receptor (TCR) utilisation by CD4 T cells in the rheumatoid joint. METHODS--Sequencing of the joining (NDJ) region of TCR beta chain mRNA isolated from synovial fluid CD4 T cells was performed in three patients in order to determine if oligoclonal expansion of particular sequences was present. Two patients were studied longitudinally to determine if these sequences changed over time. RESULTS--A number of dominant clonotypes were found within the TCR transcripts sequenced in each patient. In the two patients who were studied longitudinally, different dominant clonotypes were detected over time. No single clonotype was persistently dominant during the period of study. CONCLUSIONS--The pattern of TCR usage showed multiple oligoclonally expanded CD4 T cells within the rheumatoid joint. The change in clonotypes within the joint over time suggests that different antigens may be able to elicit synovial inflammation during the course of rheumatoid disease.
PMCID: PMC1005581  PMID: 7763112
4.  Long term persistent accumulation of CD8+ T cells in synovial fluid of rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(10):613-621.
OBJECTIVE—To characterise the type and kinetics of T cell clones in synovial lesions of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
METHODS—Mononuclear cells from serial samples of synovial fluid (SF) and peripheral blood from nine RA patients were separated phenotypically using antibody coated magnetic beads. After mRNA preparation, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed to amplify V-D(N)-J (that is, the third complementarity determining, CDR3) regions of their T cell receptor beta chain genes. This was followed by single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis to detect the clonotypes of accumulating T cells. Amino acid sequences of the dominant clones were also determined.
RESULTS—Although peripheral T cells were heterogeneous, accumulation of oligoclonal T cells was detected in SF. The predominant accumulating clone was the CD8 subset, which was persistently present in serial samples obtained over almost one year of follow up. A proportion of these cells expressed CD25 or CD45RO, or both, suggesting they are `memory' clones.
CONCLUSION—The persistent presence of CD8+ T cell clones in RA joints indicates that they may be involved in the perpetuation of the chronic inflammatory process in RA joints.

PMCID: PMC1752266  PMID: 9389223
5.  Effect of IL15 on T cell clonality in vitro and in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2000;59(9):688-694.
OBJECTIVE—Recent studies have suggested that interleukin (IL) 15 induces T cell accumulation in synovial lesions of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study aimed at determining whether this cytokine could explain in vivo T cell clonality in RA.
METHODS—Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with RA were stimulated in vitro with IL15 or IL2. After isolation of mRNA from stimulated cells and synovial T cells, genes coding the V-D(N)-J (CDR3) region of T cell receptor β chains were amplified by a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. A single strand conformation polymorphism analysis was used to detect the clonotype(s) of accumulating T cells. Nucleotide and amino acid sequencing was also performed.
RESULTS—Stimulation of PBMC with IL15 resulted in oligoclonal expansion of T cells. However, IL15 induced clones from PBMC were mostly different from the dominantly expanding T cell clones in synovial fluid. Furthermore, IL15 and IL2 responding clones were only partially identical.
CONCLUSIONS—Although IL15 results in clonal accumulation of T cells, T cell clonality in rheumatoid joints could not be explained by the effect of IL15 alone. The results indicated the requirement of other factor(s), in addition to IL15, in the pathological process affecting RA joints. The results also suggested different responses by each T cell clone to IL15 or IL2.

PMCID: PMC1753264  PMID: 10976081
6.  Clonal expansion of renal cell carcinoma-infiltrating T lymphocytes 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(9):e26014.
T lymphocytes can mediate the destruction of cancer cells by virtue of their ability to recognize tumor-derived antigenic peptides that are presented on the cell surface in complex with HLA molecules and expand. Thus, the presence of clonally expanded T cells within neoplastic lesions is an indication of ongoing HLA-restricted T cell-mediated immune responses. Multiple tumors, including renal cell carcinomas (RCCs), are often infiltrated by significant amounts of T cells, the so-called tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). In the present study, we analyzed RCC lesions (n = 13) for the presence of expanded T-cell clonotypes using T-cell receptor clonotype mapping. Surprisingly, we found that RCCs comprise relatively low numbers of distinct expanded T-cell clonotypes as compared with melanoma lesions. The numbers of different T-cell clonotypes detected among RCC-infiltrating lymphocytes were in the range of 1–17 (median = 5), and in several patients, the number of clonotypes expanded within tumor lesions resembled that observed among autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Moreover, several of these clonotypes were identical in TILs and PBMCs. Flow cytometry data demonstrated that the general differentiation status of CD8+ TILs differed from that of circulating CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, PD-1 and LAG-3 were expressed by a significantly higher percentage of CD8+ RCC-infiltrating lymphocytes as compared with PBMCs obtained from RCC patients or healthy individuals. Thus, CD8+ TILs display a differentiated phenotype and express activation markers as well as surface molecules associated with the inhibition of T-cell functions. However, TILs are characterized by a low amount of expanded T-cell clonotypes.
PMCID: PMC3820815  PMID: 24228230
T-cell phenotypes; T-cell receptor clonotype mapping; clonally expanded T cells; renal cell carcinoma; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes
7.  Combining Next-Generation Sequencing and Immune Assays: A Novel Method for Identification of Antigen-Specific T Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74231.
In this study, we combined a novel sequencing method, which can identify individual clonotypes based on their unique T cell receptor (TCR) rearrangement, with existing immune assays to characterize antigen-specific T cell responses. We validated this approach using three types of assays routinely used to measure antigen-specific responses: pentamers which enable identification of T cells bearing specific TCRs, activation marker expression following antigen stimulation and antigen-induced proliferation to identify cytomegalovirus (CMV) specific clonotypes. In one individual, 8 clonotypes were identified using a pentamer reagent derived from the CMV pp65 protein. The same 8 clonotypes were also identified following sequencing of cells that upregulated an activation marker following incubation with an identical peptide derived from pp65. These 8 and an additional 8 clonotypes were identified using a more sensitive CFSE-based proliferation assay. We found clear sequence homology among some of the clonotypes identified, and the CDR3 region in one clonotype was identical to a previously published pp65-specific clonotype sequence. Many of these CMV-specific clonotypes were present at frequencies below 10−5 which are undetectable using standard flow-cytometric methods. These studies suggest that an immune response is comprised of a diverse set of clones, many of which are present at very low frequencies. Thus, the combination of immune assays and sequencing depicts the richness and diversity of an immune response at a level that is not possible using standard immune assays alone. The methods articulated in this work provide an enhanced understanding of T cell-mediated immune responses at the clonal level.
PMCID: PMC3778005  PMID: 24069285
8.  Ectopic Lymphoid Structures Support Ongoing Production of Class-Switched Autoantibodies in Rheumatoid Synovium 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1.
Follicular structures resembling germinal centres (GCs) that are characterized by follicular dendritic cell (FDC) networks have long been recognized in chronically inflamed tissues in autoimmune diseases, including the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is debated whether these ectopic structures promote autoimmunity and chronic inflammation driving the production of pathogenic autoantibodies. Anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific markers of RA, predict a poor prognosis, and have been suggested to be pathogenic. Therefore, the main study objectives were to determine whether ectopic lymphoid structures in RA synovium: (i) express activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme required for somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination (CSR) of Ig genes; (ii) support ongoing CSR and ACPA production; and (iii) remain functional in a RA/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) chimera model devoid of new immune cell influx into the synovium.
Methods and Findings
Using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative Taqman real-time PCR (QT-PCR) in synovial tissue from 55 patients with RA, we demonstrated that FDC+ structures invariably expressed AID with a distribution resembling secondary lymphoid organs. Further, AID+/CD21+ follicular structures were surrounded by ACPA+/CD138+ plasma cells, as demonstrated by immune reactivity to citrullinated fibrinogen. Moreover, we identified a novel subset of synovial AID+/CD20+ B cells outside GCs resembling interfollicular large B cells. In order to gain direct functional evidence that AID+ structures support CSR and in situ manufacturing of class-switched ACPA, 34 SCID mice were transplanted with RA synovium and humanely killed at 4 wk for harvesting of transplants and sera. Persistent expression of AID and Iγ-Cμ circular transcripts (identifying ongoing IgM-IgG class-switching) was observed in synovial grafts expressing FDCs/CD21L. Furthermore, synovial mRNA levels of AID were closely associated with circulating human IgG ACPA in mouse sera. Finally, the survival and proliferation of functional B cell niches was associated with persistent overexpression of genes regulating ectopic lymphoneogenesis.
Our demonstration that FDC+ follicular units invariably express AID and are surrounded by ACPA-producing plasma cells provides strong evidence that ectopic lymphoid structures in the RA synovium are functional and support autoantibody production. This concept is further confirmed by evidence of sustained AID expression, B cell proliferation, ongoing CSR, and production of human IgG ACPA from GC+ synovial tissue transplanted into SCID mice, independently of new B cell influx from the systemic circulation. These data identify AID as a potential therapeutic target in RA and suggest that survival of functional synovial B cell niches may profoundly influence chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and response to B cell–depleting therapies.
Costantino Pitzalis and colleagues show that lymphoid structures in synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis support production of anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies, which continues following transplantation into SCID mice.
Editors' Summary
More than 1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, an “autoimmune” condition that affects the joints. Normally, the immune system provides protection against infection by responding to foreign antigens (molecules that are unique to invading organisms) while ignoring self-antigens present in the body's own tissues. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and non-self fails for unknown reasons and the immune system begins to attack human tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints (the synovium) is attacked, it becomes inflamed and thickened, and chemicals are released that damage all the tissues in the joint. Eventually, the joint may become so scarred that movement is no longer possible. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the small joints in the hands and feet, but larger joints and other tissues (including the heart and blood vessels) can be affected. Its symptoms, which tend to fluctuate, include early morning joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and feeling generally unwell. Although the disease is not always easy to diagnose, the immune systems of many people with rheumatoid arthritis make “anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies” (ACPA). These “autoantibodies” (which some experts believe can contribute to the joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis) recognize self-proteins that contain the unusual amino acid citrulline, and their detection on blood tests can help make the diagnosis. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the recently developed biologic drugs, often used together with the more traditional disease-modifying therapies, are able to halt its progression by specifically blocking the chemicals that cause joint damage. Painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce its symptoms, and badly damaged joints can sometimes be surgically replaced.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before scientists can develop a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, they need to know how and why autoantibodies are made that attack the joints in this common and disabling disease. B cells, the immune system cells that make antibodies, mature in structures known as “germinal centers” in the spleen and lymph nodes. In the germinal centers, immature B cells are exposed to antigens and undergo two genetic processes called “somatic hypermutation” and “class-switch recombination” that ensure that each B cell makes an antibody that sticks as tightly as possible to just one antigen. The B cells then multiply and enter the bloodstream where they help to deal with infections. Interestingly, the inflamed synovium of many patients with rheumatoid arthritis contains structures that resemble germinal centers. Could these ectopic (misplaced) lymphoid structures, which are characterized by networks of immune system cells called follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), promote autoimmunity and long-term inflammation by driving the production of autoantibodies within the joint itself? In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected synovial tissue from 55 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and used two approaches, called immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR, to investigate whether FDC-containing structures in synovium expressed an enzyme called activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which is needed for both somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination. All the FDC-containing structures that the researchers found in their samples expressed AID. Furthermore, these AID-containing structures were surrounded by mature B cells making ACPAs. To test whether these B cells were derived from AID-expressing cells resident in the synovium rather than ACPA-expressing immune system cells coming into the synovium from elsewhere in the body, the researchers transplanted synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis under the skin of a special sort of mouse that largely lacks its own immune system. Four weeks later, the researchers found that the transplanted human lymphoid tissue was still making AID, that the level of AID expression correlated with the amount of human ACPA in the blood of the mice, and that the B cells in the transplant were proliferating.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the ectopic lymphoid structures present in the synovium of some patients with rheumatoid arthritis are functional and are able to make ACPA. Because ACPA may be responsible for joint damage, the survival of these structures could, therefore, be involved in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. More experiments are needed to confirm this idea, but these findings may explain why drugs that effectively clear B cells from the bloodstream do not always produce a marked clinical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, they suggest that AID might provide a new target for the development of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rene Toes and Tom Huizinga
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish). MedlinePlus provides links to other information on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices information service has detailed information on rheumatoid arthritis
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides Fast Facts, an easy to read publication for the public, and a more detailed Handbook on rheumatoid arthritis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview on rheumatoid arthritis that includes statistics about this disease and its impact on daily life
PMCID: PMC2621263  PMID: 19143467
9.  Specificity of T cells in synovial fluid: high frequencies of CD8+ T cells that are specific for certain viral epitopes 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):154-164.
CD8+ T cells dominate the lymphocyte population in synovial fluid in chronic inflammatory arthritis. It is known that these CD8+ T cells are often clonally or oligoclonally expanded, but their specificity and their relevance to the pathogenesis of joint disease has remained unclear. We found that as many as 15.5% of synovial CD8+ T cells may be specific for a single epitope from an Epstein-Barr virus lytic cycle protein. The virus-specific T cells within the joint showed increased expression of markers of activation and differentiation compared with those in the periphery, and retained their functional capacity to secrete proinflammatory cytokines on stimulation. These activated, virus-specific CD8+ T cells could therefore interact with synoviocytes, either by cell-cell contact or by a cytokine network, and play a 'bystander' role in the maintenance of inflammation in patients with arthritis.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is transmitted orally, replicates in the oropharynx and establishes life-long latency in human B lymphocytes. T-cell responses to latent and lytic/replicative cycle proteins are readily detectable in peripheral blood from healthy EBV-seropositive individuals. EBV has also been detected within synovial tissue, and T-cell responses to EBV lytic proteins have been reported in synovial fluid from a patient with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This raises the question regarding whether T cells specific for certain viruses might be present at high frequencies within synovial fluid and whether such T cells might be activated or able to secrete cytokines. If so, they might play a 'bystander' role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory joint disease.
To quantify and characterize T cells that are specific for epitopes from EBV, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and influenza in peripheral blood and synovial fluid from patients with arthritis.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and synovial fluid mononuclear cells (SFMCs) were obtained from patients with inflammatory arthritis (including those with RA, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis). Samples from human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-A2-positive donors were stained with fluorescent-labelled tetramers of HLA-A2 complexed with the GLCTLVAML peptide epitope from the EBV lytic cycle protein BMLF1, the GILGFVFTL peptide epitope from the influenza A matrix protein, or the NLVPMVATV epitope from the CMV pp65 protein. Samples from HLA-B8-positive donors were stained with fluorescent-labelled tetramers of HLA-B8 complexed with the RAKFKQLL peptide epitope from the EBV lytic protein BZLF1 or the FLRGRAYGL peptide epitope from the EBV latent protein EBNA3A. All samples were costained with an antibody specific for CD8. CD4+ T cells were not analyzed. Selected samples were costained with antibodies specific for cell-surface glycoproteins, in order to determine the phenotype of the T cells within the joint and the periphery. Functional assays to detect release of IFN-γ or tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α were also performed on some samples.
The first group of 15 patients included 10 patients with RA, one patient with reactive arthritis, one patient with psoriatic arthritis and three patients with osteoarthritis. Of these, 11 were HLA-A2 positive and five were HLA-B8 positive. We used HLA-peptide tetrameric complexes to analyze the frequency of EBV-specific T cells in PBMCs and SFMCs (Figs 1 and 2). Clear enrichment of CD8+ T cells specific for epitopes from the EBV lytic cycle proteins was seen within synovial fluid from almost all donors studied, including patients with psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis and those with RA. In donor RhA6, 9.5% of CD8+ SFMCs were specific for the HLA-A2 restricted GLCTLVAML epitope, compared with 0.5% of CD8+ PBMCs. Likewise in a donor with osteoarthritis (NR4), 15.5% of CD8+ SFMCs were specific for the HLA-B8-restricted RAKFKQLL epitope, compared with 0.4% of CD8+ PBMCs. In contrast, we did not find enrichment of T cells specific for the HLA-B8-restricted FLRGRAYGL epitope (from the latent protein EBNA3A) within SFMCs compared with PBMCs in any donors. In selected individuals we performed ELISpot assays to detect IFN-γ secreted by SFMCs and PBMCs after a short incubation in vitro with peptide epitopes from EBV lytic proteins. These assays confirmed enrichment of T cells specific for epitopes from EBV lytic proteins within synovial fluid and showed that subpopulations of these cells were able to secrete proinflammatory cytokines after short-term stimulation.
We used a HLA-A2/GILGFVFTL tetramer to stain PBMCs and SFMCs from six HLA-A2-positive patients. The proportion of T cells specific for this influenza epitope was low (<0.2%) in all donors studied, and we did not find any enrichment within SFMCs.
We had access to SFMCs only from a second group of four HLA-A2-positive patients with RA. A tetramer of HLA-A2 complexed to the NLVPMVATV epitope from the CMV pp65 protein reacted with subpopulations of CD8+ SFMCs in all four donors, with frequencies of 0.2, 0.5, 2.3 and 13.9%. SFMCs from all four donors secreted TNF after short-term incubation with COS cells transfected with HLA-A2 and pp65 complementary DNA. We analyzed the phenotype of virus-specific cells within PBMCs and SFMCs in three donors. The SFMC virus-specific T cells were more highly activated than those in PBMCs, as evidenced by expression of high levels of CD69 and HLA-DR. A greater proportion of SFMCs were CD38+, CD62L low, CD45RO bright, CD45RA dim, CD57+ and CD28- when compared with PBMCs.
This work shows that T cells specific for certain epitopes from viral proteins are present at very high frequencies (up to 15.5% of CD8+ T cells) within SFMCs taken from patients with inflammatory joint disease. This enrichment does not reflect a generalized enrichment for the 'memory pool' of T cells; we did not find enrichment of T cells specific for the GILGFVFTL epitope from influenza A or for the FLRGRAYGL epitope from the EBV latent protein EBNA3A, whereas we found clear enrichment of T cells specific for the GLCTLVAML epitope from the EBV lytic protein BMLF1 and for the RAKFKQLL epitope from the EBV lytic protein BZLF1.
The enrichment might reflect preferential recruitment of subpopulations of virus-specific T cells, perhaps based on expression of selectins, chemokine receptors or integrins. Alternatively, T cells specific for certain viral epitopes may be stimulated to proliferate within the joint, by viral antigens themselves or by cross-reactive self-antigens. Finally, it is theoretically possible that subpopulations of T cells within the joint are preferentially protected from apoptotic cell death. Whatever the explanation, the virus-specific T cells are present at high frequency, are activated and are able to secrete proinflammatory cytokines. They could potentially interact with synoviocytes and contribute to the maintenance of inflammation within joints in many different forms of inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC17809  PMID: 11062606
CD8+ T cell; Epstein-Barr virus lytic cycle; human leucocyte antigen peptide tetrameric complex; rheumatoid arthritis; viral immunity
10.  Clonal T cell expansion induced by interleukin 2 therapy in blood and tumors. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;97(5):1219-1226.
In a phase I clinical trial on the effects of preoperative adjuvant IL-2 therapy given to patients undergoing hepatic resection of colorectal adenocarcinoma metastases, we monitored the putative induction of T cell clonal expansion in both tissues and blood. The presence of T cell clonotypes was analyzed with a PCR-based method that determines V-D-J junction size patterns in T cell receptor (TCR) V beta subfamilies in samples before and after a 5-d IL-2 infusion. This high resolution method analyzing CDR3 sizes of TCR transcripts was used in conjunction with FACS analysis of the corresponding T cell subpopulations with TCR V beta-specific mAb. At time of surgery (day 8 after starting IL-2), we found in the three patients analyzed with V beta-C beta primers multiple dominant T cell clonotypes in the tumor and peritumoral tissues which had probably expanded as a result of therapy. In three control patients not treated with IL-2, multiple oligoclonal patterns were not observed with this set of primers. In the fourth control patient a unique V beta 21-C beta CDR3 pattern which corresponds to two dominant clonotypes was found in the tumor. The same dominant clonotypes identified in the tumor after IL-2 were also detectable in the blood and comparison of the profiles obtained before and after IL-2 therapy indicates that they were induced by IL-2. The relative expansion of the corresponding T cell subpopulations was maintained for varying periods of time after surgery (4-7 d and almost 2 yr in one case). Together, these results indicate that IL-2 induces marked expansion of several T cell clones. Systemic IL-2 administration may represent, either alone or as a vaccine adjuvant, an appropriate way of boosting antigen-specific immune responses.
PMCID: PMC507174  PMID: 8636433
11.  Type II collagen is a target antigen of clonally expanded T cells in the synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1999;58(7):446-450.
OBJECTIVE—To investigate whether type II collagen (CII) is recognised by oligoclonally expanded synovial T cells of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
METHODS—Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 15 RA patients were stimulated with CII in vitro. T cell clones expanded by such stimulation were compared with the clonally expanded synovial T cells by using T cell receptor (TCR) B chain gene specific reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and subsequent single strand conformation polymorphism analyses.
RESULTS—Stimulation of the heterogeneous peripheral T cells with CII induced clonal expansion of T cells. In three of 15 patients, a proportion of these clones (approximately 17% to 25%) was found to be identical to expanded T cell clones in the synovium in vivo.
CONCLUSION—T cell clones that had TCR CDR3 sequences identical to those induced by purified CII were found in a proportion of RA patients. This finding suggests that CII is recognised by T cells that accumulate clonally in RA joints. Oligoclonal T cell expansion in RA joints is probably driven, at least in part, by intra-articular components such as CII.

PMCID: PMC1752913  PMID: 10381490
12.  IgVH genes from different anatomical regions, with different histopathological patterns, of a rheumatoid arthritis patient suggest cyclic re-entry of mature synovial B-cells in the hypermutation process 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):303-314.
In the present study 55 IgVH genes amplified from three different anatomical regions of a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient were analyzed, adding further information on synovial B-cell maturation and recirculation in RA. This analysis demonstrated somatically mutated IgVh genes in all regions studied, with amino acid deletions and mixed IgVh molecules, suggesting the existence of a novel pathway to generate (auto) antibody specificities. Comparison of amino acid sequences of amplified genes that belong to the VH1 family (with predominantly the same germline counterpart) exhibited strong homology, indicating an apparently conserved mutational pattern. This suggests that the number of antigens that activate B cells in different locations is restricted. The most striking result was the finding of clonally related sequences in different anatomical regions, indicating a recirculation of activated B cells between the different affected joints.
Although IgV genes in rheumatoid B cells have been intensively analyzed, many questions concerning antigen driven B-cell maturation and recirculation remain unanswered. It would be interesting to know whether B-cell maturation in rheumatoid tissue is different from that in secondary lymphatic organs. Moreover, it would be interesting to know whether there exists a restricted number of antigens that act on the lesions of different anatomical sites of the RA patient, and whether B cells recirculate between the different joints.
RNA and genomic DNA were prepared from tissue sections from three different anatomical sites, with different histopathologies and different onsets (left and right peroneal tendons and cubita synovial membrane), of a RA patient. Genomic DNA was amplified by seminested polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and the cDNA corresponding to the RNA was amplified by PCR using primers specific for each IgVH family. The obtained sequences were compared with their germline counterparts on the V-Base data Bank [1]. An immunohisto-chemical analysis of the infiltrate and the clinical data of local disease activity were also included.
In the locations with longer disease duration (right peroneal tendon 5 months, left peroneal tendon 2 months) a very intense inflammatory infiltrate with germinal centers containing Ki-M4-positive follicular dendritic cells (FDC) was observed. In the location with shorter disease duration (right cubita 2 weeks) a low, diffuse and nonfollicular infiltration with marked oedema was detected. From the 55 analyzed clones seven expressed nonfunctional rearrangements (pseudogenes) with stop codons, and 48 were found to express functional genes. Among the 48 clones that expressed functional genes, there were two that had amino acid deletions on their complementarity determining region (CDR)2 - clones K194/1 and K194/111 - similar to the ones described by Wilson et al [2] and Goossens et al [3]. Two types of mixed molecules were found. Mixed molecules of the first type (k194/57, k194/67 and k194/109) are composed of rearrangements of two different IgV genes. Mixed molecules of the second type (k194/126, k194/119, k194/30 and k194/99) are composed of a IgV gene rearrangement that is fragmented by insertions of small random sequences. These insertions are different from the ones described by Wilson et al [2] since they are not duplicates or parts of IgV genes. The ratio of replacement mutations to silent mutations (R/S ratio) increased with disease duration. There was strong heterogeneity among the CDR3 segments.
The amino acid sequences that belonged to the VH1-family obtained from the three anatomical regions were primarily compared with the amino acid sequences of their closest germline counterparts (Fig. 1a). One result from this comparison was the heterogeneity in the CDR3 rearrangements. Moreover, sequences k194/58 and k194/82 are clonally related (confirmed at nucleotide level). Then, the 21 amino acid sequences were compared with the most widely used germline counterpart IgHV1-18*01 (Fig. 1b). All of these VH1 sequences had mainly conservative mutations in the framework region (FR) and nonconservative mutations in the CDR. Also, there was an almost overall conservation of the mutational cold spots and 'structural cold spots' [4] among the 19 VH1 segments. The replacement (11 from 19 replacements resulted in a proline residue) in position 34 of CDR2 could be interpreted as an antigen-selected mutational hotspot.
The comparison of the five sequences belonging to IgHV4-30-1/4-31*02 resulted in two types of clonal relation (Fig. 2a). The first type of clonal relation, between sequences k194/100 and k194/101 (Fig. 2b), suggests that both sequences are derived from a single progenitor cell. The second type of clonal relation is between sequences k194/23, k194/102 and k194/103 (Fig. 2c). It suggests that an unmutated progenitor cell gave rise to k194/23 (left peroneal tendon), from which k194/103 (right cubita) derived and later generated k194/102 (right cubita).
The analysis of the 55IgVH sequences corroborates the findings of other groups that studied a singlelocation and RA B-cell hybridomas [5,6,7,8,9,10] and adds further information on B-cell distribution and activation in RA. First, amino acid deletions and mixed molecules could be interpreted as novel pathways to generate antibody specificities, leading, for instance, to autoreactive antibodies that could contribute to the local and systemic tissue destruction. Second, an apparently conserved mutational pattern among the 19 amino acid VH1 segments suggests that in all three RA lesions of this patient the synovial B cells are dealing with a restricted number of antigens. Third, the existence of clonally related B cells in the cubita and left peroneal tendon leaves no doubt that in this patient there is a cyclic re-entry of mutated B cells in the hypermutation process [11]. The already mutated B cells from the early RA lesions sequentially colonize new germinal centers in secondary lymphatic organs as proposed by Kepler et al [12]. These reactivated B-cells then invade new anatomical regions, leading to the perpetuation of the chronic inflammation in RA.
PMCID: PMC17813  PMID: 11056671
IgVH genes; rheumatoid arthritis; synovial B-cell recirculation
13.  Monoclonal IgM rheumatoid factors derived from arthritic MRL/Mp-lpr/lpr mice 
MRL/lpr/lpr (MRL/l) mice develop a lupus-like syndrome and a disease histologically and serologically similar to human rheumatoid arthritis. Their sera contain polyclonal IgM rheumatoid factors (RF) reactive with all murine IgG subclasses (frequently strongest with IgG2a) and several heterologous IgG. To examine the repertoire and epitopic specificities of these RF, we fused splenocytes from 3.5-mo-old seropositive MRL/l mice with appropriate myeloma partners and derived 1,723 hybridomas of which 23 secreted IgMRF. These monoclonal IgMRF bound to murine IgG only, not to other murine isotypes. Eight murine IgG subclass-specific clonotypes were identified. Most clones reacted with either multiple IgG subclasses or with IgG2a alone. A few clones reacted solely with IgG2b but none reacted exclusively with IgG1 or IgG3. Monoclonal IgMRF with exclusively anti-IgG2a activity exhibited allotypic specificity, reacting, with few exceptions, with a, c, and e, but not b, d, or j IgG2a allotypes. Four clonotypes could be distinguished by cross- reactivity with IgG from species other than mice. Monoclonals possessing activity against several murine subclasses cross-reacted extensively with heterologous IgG, including all human IgG subclasses without allotypic restrictions. Monoclonal IgMRF specific for murine IgG2a or 2b did not cross-react with heterologous IgG. Based on the absence of cross-reactions by IgG2a-specific monoclonal autoantibodies, certain peptides of the IgG CH2 and CH3 domains appear to generate the antigenic determinants of the anti-IgG2a RF in MRL/l mice. All of the monoclonal RF bound to Fc and, with one exception, not to Fab fragments of murine IgG. Binding of the monoclonal RF to substrate IgG was not inhibited by Clq, thus excluding the Clq-binding site at the CH2 domain as one of the responsible epitopes in the induction of MRL/l RF. mIgMRF could be categorized as strongly, weakly, or noninhibitable by protein A, which interacts with IgG molecules at or near the CH2-CH3 junction. Inhibition appears to be caused by conformational changes and/or steric shielding of certain IgG areas distant from this junction and not by identical binding sites between protein A and RF. Certain of the mIgMRF that were weakly or not at all inhibitable by protein A were found to cross-react equally well with human Fc (CH2-CH3 domains) and pFc' (CH3 domain) fragments, indicating that the binding site for these monoclonals is at the CH3 domain. Monoclonal RF were devoid of anti- double-strand DNA, anticollagen, or antipeptidoglycan pentapeptide cross-reactivity, but one of the monoclonals cross-reacted with histones, four with single-strand DNA, and one with both histones and single-strand DNA.
PMCID: PMC2187088  PMID: 6224885
14.  Survival, Persistence, and Progressive Differentiation of Adoptively Transferred Tumor-Reactive T Cells Associated with Tumor Regression 
Objective clinical responses have been observed in approximately 50% of patients who received non-myeloablative chemotherapy prior to the adoptive transfer of autologous melanoma-reactive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). Recent studies carried out through the use of antibodies directed against T-cell-receptor beta chain variable region (TRBV) products, as well as by direct sequencing of the expressed TRBV gene products, indicated that clinical responses in this trial were associated with the level of persistence of adoptively transferred T cells. In an attempt to further characterize T cells that persist in vivo following adoptive transfer, five dominant T-cell clonotypes were identified in TIL 2035, an adoptively transferred TIL that was associated with the complete regression of multiple metastases. The most highly persistent clonotype, which expressed the BV1 TR gene product, recognized the MAGE-6 cancer/testis antigen in the context of HLA-A23. This clonotype was detected in peripheral blood for over 16 months following adoptive transfer, expressed relatively higher levels of the co-stimulatory markers CD28 and CD27, and possessed telomeres that were long relative to other clonotypes present in TIL 2035 that showed only short-term persistence. The long-term persistent BV1 clonotype appeared to differentiate more slowly toward an end-stage effector in vivo than short-term persistent clonotypes, as manifested by the downregulation of CD28, CD27, and CD45RO and upregulation of CD57 and CD45RA expression on these T cells. These results indicated that the differentiation stage and replicative history of individual TIL clonotypes might be associated with their ability to survive and to persist in vivo, and progressive differentiation of the persistent clonotypes occurred following adoptive transfer.
PMCID: PMC2174599  PMID: 15838383
cell differentiation; human; T-cell receptors; T cells; tumor immunity
15.  CD4+ CD7- CD28- T cells are expanded in rheumatoid arthritis and are characterized by autoreactivity. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;97(9):2027-2037.
Clonal expansion of CD4+ T cells is a characteristic finding in patients with RA and is only infrequently found in patients with psoriatic arthritis and healthy controls. Expanded CD4+ clonotypes are present in the blood, infiltrate into the joint, and persist over years. We have not addressed the question of whether the expanded clonotypes have unique functional and phenotypic properties which may explain the preferential in vivo expansion in RA. In contrast to most CD4+ T cells, expanded clonotypes lacked the expression of the CD28 and CD7 cell surface molecules. Accordingly, the subsets of CD4+ CD28- (9.7 vs 1.7, P = 0.00002) and CD4+ CD7- T cells (21.5 vs 12.26, P = 0.018) were increased in RA patients compared with age-matched normal individuals. Despite the lack of CD28 expression, clonally expanded CD4+ T cells were not anergic but proliferated in response to immobilized anti-CD3 and could be maintained in tissue culture. In vivo expanded CD4+ T cells were autoreactive to ubiquitously distributed autoantigens. They responded in an autologous mixed lymphocyte reaction, and T cell clones isolated from selected patients proliferated to autologous peripheral blood adherent cells. These data suggest that in RA patients selected CD4+ T cells which share the CD7- CD28- phenotype escape from peripheral tolerance.
PMCID: PMC507276  PMID: 8621791
16.  The repertoire of CD4+ CD28- T cells in rheumatoid arthritis. 
Molecular Medicine  1996;2(5):608-618.
BACKGROUND: While oligoclonality of circulating CD4- CD8 and of CD8+ T cells is not uncommon, clonal dominance within the CD4 compartment is not frequently found in healthy individuals. In contrast, the majority of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have clonally expanded CD4+ T cell populations. Previous studies have demonstrated that these clonogenic CD4+ T cells do not express the CD28 molecule. To examine the correlation between CD28 expression and clonal proliferation, we have analyzed the T cell receptor (TCR) diversity of CD4+ CD28- T cells in normal individuals and in RA patients. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The size of the peripheral blood CD4+ CD28- compartment was determined in 30 healthy individuals and 30 RA patients by two-color FACS analysis. In 10 RA patients and five controls with more than 2.5% CD4+ CD28- T cells, TCR BV gene segment usage was analyzed with 19 BV-specific antibodies. Oligoclonality was assessed in sorted CD4+ CD28+ and CD28- T cells using TCR BV-BC-specific polymerase chain reaction and size fractionation. Clonal dominance was confirmed by direct sequencing. RESULTS: The CD4+ CD28- T cell compartment was expanded to more than 2.5% in 70% of the RA patients and 30% of the normal individuals. Compared with the CD4+ CD28+ T cells, the TCR BV gene segment usage among CD4+ CD28- cells was grossly skewed with the dominance of single BV elements. Molecular TCR analysis provided evidence for oligoclonality in 17 of 21 expanded BV elements. In two unrelated RA patients who shared both HLA-DRB1 alleles, the TCR beta-chain sequences of dominant clonotypes were highly conserved. CONCLUSIONS: Oligoclonality is a characteristic feature of CD4+ CD28- T cells which are expanded in some healthy individuals and in the majority of RA patients. The lack of CD28 expression is a common denominator of CD4+, CD8+, and CD4- CD8- T cells prone to develop clonal dominance. The limited TCR diversity of clonal CD4+ CD28- populations in RA patients suggests that these T cells recognize a limited spectrum of antigens. The fact that the majority of individuals with marked expansions and oligoclonality of CD4+ CD28- T cells are RA patients suggests a role for these unusual lymphocytes in the pathogenetic events leading to RA.
PMCID: PMC2230198  PMID: 8898376
17.  Predictive Diagnostics for Escherichia coli Infections Based on the Clonal Association of Antimicrobial Resistance and Clinical Outcome 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(9):2991-2999.
The ability to identify bacterial pathogens at the subspecies level in clinical diagnostics is currently limited. We investigated whether splitting Escherichia coli species into clonal groups (clonotypes) predicts antimicrobial susceptibility or clinical outcome. A total of 1,679 extraintestinal E. coli isolates (collected from 2010 to 2012) were collected from one German and 5 U.S. clinical microbiology laboratories. Clonotype identity was determined by fumC and fimH (CH) sequencing. The associations of clonotype with antimicrobial susceptibility and clinical variables were evaluated. CH typing divided the isolates into >200 CH clonotypes, with 93% of the isolates belonging to clonotypes with ≥2 isolates. Antimicrobial susceptibility varied substantially among clonotypes but was consistent across different locations. Clonotype-guided antimicrobial selection significantly reduced “drug-bug” mismatch compared to that which occurs with the use of conventional empirical therapy. With trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and fluoroquinolones, the drug-bug mismatch was predicted to decrease 62% and 78%, respectively. Recurrent or persistent urinary tract infection and clinical sepsis were significantly correlated with specific clonotypes, especially with CH40-30 (also known as H30), a recently described clonotype within sequence type 131 (ST131). We were able to clonotype directly from patient urine samples within 1 to 3 h of obtaining the specimen. In E. coli, subspecies-level identification by clonotyping can be used to significantly improve empirical predictions of antimicrobial susceptibility and clinical outcomes in a timely manner.
PMCID: PMC3754640  PMID: 23843485
18.  Identification of a public CDR3 motif and a biased utilization of T-cell receptor V beta and J beta chains in HLA-A2/Melan-A-specific T-cell clonotypes of melanoma patients 
Assessment of T-cell diversity, besides giving insights about the molecular basis of tumor antigen recognition, has clinical implications since it provides criteria for evaluating antigen-specific T cells clinically relevant for spontaneous and vaccine-induced anti-tumor activity. Melan-A is one of the melanoma antigens most frequently recognized by peripheral and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in HLA-A2+ melanoma patients. Many clinical trials involving anti-tumor vaccination have been conducted using modified versions of this peptide.
We conducted an in-depth characterization of 210 T-cell receptor beta chain (TRB) clonotypes derived from T cells of HLA-A2+ melanoma patients displaying cytotoxic activity against natural and A27L-modified Melan-A peptides. One hundred and thirteen Melan-A-specific clonotypes from melanoma-free subjects, 199 clonotypes from T-cell clones from melanoma patients specific for melanoma antigens other than Melan-A, and 305 clonotypes derived from T cells of HLA-A2+ individuals showing unrelated specificities, were used as control. After sequence analysis, performed according to the IMGT definitions, TRBV and TRBJ usage, CDR3 length and amino acid composition were compared in the four groups of clonotypes.
TRB sequences of Melan-A-specific clonotypes obtained from melanoma patients were highly heterogeneous, but displayed a preferential usage of few TRBV and TRBJ segments. Furthermore, they included a recurrent "public" amino acid motif (Glycine-Leucine-Glycine at positions 110-112-113 of the CDR3) rearranged with dominant TRBV and TRBJ segments and, in one case, associated with a full conservation of the entire TRB sequence.
Contrary to what observed for public anti-Melan-A T-cell receptor alpha motifs, which had been identified in several clonotypes of both melanoma patients and healthy controls, the unexpectedly high contribution of a public TRB motif in the recognition of a dominant melanoma epitope in melanoma patients may provide important information about the biology of anti-tumor T-cell responses and improve monitoring strategies of anti-tumor vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2667493  PMID: 19317896
19.  Requirement for diverse TCR specificities determines regulatory T cell activity in a mouse model of autoimmune arthritis1 
CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) are required to restrain the immune system from mounting an autoaggressive systemic inflammatory response, but why their activity can prevent (or allow) organ-specific autoimmunity remains poorly understood. We have examined how TCR specificity contributes to Treg activity using a mouse model of spontaneous autoimmune arthritis, in which CD4+ T cells expressing a clonotypic TCR induce disease by an IL-17-dependent mechanism. Administration of polyclonal Tregs suppressed Th17 cell formation and prevented arthritis development; notably, Tregs expressing the clonotypic TCR did not. These clonotypic Tregs exerted antigen-specific suppression of effector CD4+ T cells using the clonotypic TCR in vivo, but failed to mediate bystander suppression and did not prevent Th17 cells using nonclonotypic TCRs from accumulating in joint-draining lymph nodes of arthritic mice. These studies indicate that the availability of Tregs with diverse TCR specificities can be crucial to their activity in autoimmune arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3331886  PMID: 22450809
20.  Acute-phase serum amyloid A production by rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):142-144.
Acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA) is a major component of the acute-phase response. A sustained acute-phase response in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased joint damage. A-SAA mRNA expression was confirmed in all samples obtained from patients with RA, but not in normal synovium. A-SAA mRNA expression was also demonstrated in cultured RA synoviocytes. A-SAA protein was identified in the supernatants of primary synoviocyte cultures, and its expression colocalized with sites of macrophage accumulation and with some vascular endothelial cells. It is concluded that A-SAA is produced by inflamed RA synovial tissue. The known association between the acute-phase response and progressive joint damage may be the direct result of synovial A-SAA-induced effects on cartilage degradation.
Serum amyloid A (SAA) is the circulating precursor of amyloid A protein, the fibrillar component of amyloid deposits. In humans, four SAA genes have been described. Two genes (SAA1 and SAA2) encode A-SAA and are coordinately induced in response to inflammation. SAA1 and SAA2 are 95% homologous in both coding and noncoding regions. SAA3 is a pseudogene. SAA4 encodes constitutive SAA and is minimally inducible. A-SAA increases dramatically during acute inflammation and may reach levels that are 1000-fold greater than normal. A-SAA is mainly synthesized in the liver, but extrahepatic production has been demonstrated in many species, including humans. A-SAA mRNA is expressed in RA synoviocytes and in monocyte/macrophage cell lines such as THP-1 cells, in endothelial cells and in smooth muscle cells of atherosclerotic lesions. A-SAA has also been localized to a wide range of histologically normal tissues, including breast, stomach, intestine, pancreas, kidney, lung, tonsil, thyroid, pituitary, placenta, skin and brain.
To identify the cell types that produce A-SAA mRNA and protein, and their location in RA synovium.
Materials and methods:
Rheumatoid synovial tissue was obtained from eight patients undergoing arthroscopic biopsy and at joint replacement surgery. Total RNA was analyzed by reverse transcription (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for A-SAA mRNA. PCR products generated were confirmed by Southern blot analysis using human A-SAA cDNA. Localization of A-SAA production was examined by immunohistochemistry using a rabbit antihuman A-SAA polyclonal antibody. PrimaryRA synoviocytes were cultured to examine endogenous A-SAA mRNA expression and protein production.
A-SAA mRNA expression was detected using RT-PCR in all eight synovial tissue samples studied. Figure 1 demonstrates RT-PCR products generated using synovial tissue from three representative RA patients. Analysis of RA synovial tissue revealed differences in A-SAA mRNA levels between individual RA patients.
In order to identify the cells that expressed A-SAA mRNA in RA synovial tissue, we analyzed primary human synoviocytes (n = 2). RT-PCR analysis revealed A-SAA mRNA expression in primary RA synoviocytes (n = 2; Fig. 2). The endogenous A-SAA mRNA levels detected in individual primary RA synoviocytes varied between patients. These findings are consistent with A-SAA expression in RA synovial tissue (Fig. 1). Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) levels were relatively similar in the RA synoviocytes examined (Fig. 2). A-SAA protein in the supernatants of primary synoviocyte cultures from four RA patients was measured using ELISA. Mean values of a control and four RA samples were 77.85, 162.5, 249.8, 321.5 and 339.04 μg/l A-SAA, respectively, confirming the production of A-SAA protein by the primary RA synoviocytes. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to localize sites of A-SAA production in RA synovial tissue. Positive staining was present in both the lining and sublining layers of all eight RA tissues examined (Fig. 3a). Staining was intense and most prominent in the cells closest to the surface of the synovial lining layer. Positively stained cells were evident in the perivascular areas of the sublining layer. In serial sections stained with anti-CD68 monoclonal antibody, positive staining of macrophages appeared to colocalize with A-SAA-positive cells (Fig. 3b). Immunohistochemical studies of cultured primary RA synoviocytes confirmed specific cytoplasmic A-SAA expression in these cells. The specificity of the staining was confirmed by the absence of staining found on serial sections and synoviocyte cells treated with IgG (Fig. 3c).
This study demonstrates that A-SAA mRNA is expressed in several cell populations infiltrating RA synovial tissue. A-SAA mRNA expression was observed in all eight unseparated RA tissue samples studied. A-SAA mRNA expression and protein production was demonstrated in primary cultures of purified RA synoviocytes. Using immunohistochemical techniques, A-SAA protein appeared to colocalize with both lining layer and sublining layer synoviocytes, macrophages and some endothelial cells. The detection of A-SAA protein in culture media supernatants harvested from unstimulated synoviocytes confirms endogenous A-SAA production, and is consistent with A-SAA mRNA expression and translation by the same cells. Moreover, the demonstration of A-SAA protein in RA synovial tissue, RA cultured synoviocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells is consistent with previous studies that demonstrated A-SAA production by a variety of human cell populations.
The RA synovial lining layer is composed of activated macrophages and fibroblast-like synoviocytes. The macrophage is the predominant cell type and it has been shown to accumulate preferentially in the surface of the lining layer and in the perivascular areas of the sublining layer. Nevertheless, our observations strongly suggest that A-SAA is produced not only by synoviocytes, but also by synovial tissue macrophage populations. Local A-SAA protein production by vascular endothelial cells was detected in some, but not all, of the tissues examined. The reason for the variability in vascular A-SAA staining is unknown, but may be due to differences in endothelial cell activation, events related to angiogenesis or the intensity of local inflammation.
The value of measuring serum A-SAA levels as a reliable surrogate marker of inflammation has been demonstrated for several diseases including RA, juvenile chronic arthritis, psoriatic arthropathy, ankylosing spondylitis, Behçet's disease, reactive arthritis and Crohn's disease. It has been suggested that serum A-SAA levels may represent the most sensitive measurement of the acute-phase reaction. In RA, A-SAA levels provide the strongest correlations with clinical measurements of disease activity, and changes in serum levels best reflect the clinical course.
A number of biologic activities have been described for A-SAA, including several that are relevant to the understanding of inflammatory and tissue-degrading mechanisms in human arthritis. A-SAA induces migration, adhesion and tissue infiltration of circulating monocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. In addition, human A-SAA can induce interleukin-1β, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist and soluble type II tumour necrosis factor receptor production by a monocyte cell line. Moreover, A-SAA can stimulate the production of cartilage-degrading proteases by both human and rabbit synoviocytes. The effects of A-SAA on protease production are interesting, because in RA a sustained acute-phase reaction has been strongly associated with progressive joint damage. The known association between the acute-phase response and progressive joint damage may be the direct result of synovial A-SAA-induced effects on cartilage degradation.
In contrast to noninflamed synovium, A-SAA mRNA expression was identified in all RA tissues examined. A-SAA appeared to be produced by synovial tissue synoviocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells. The observation of A-SAA mRNA expression in cultured RA synoviocytes and human RA synovial tissue confirms and extends recently published findings that demonstrated A-SAA mRNA expression in stimulated RA synoviocytes, but not in unstimulated RA synoviocytes.
PMCID: PMC17807  PMID: 11062604
acute-phase response; rheumatoid arthritis; serum amyloid A; synovial tissue
21.  The effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on matrix metalloproteinase and prostaglandin E2 production by cells of the rheumatoid lesion 
Arthritis Research  1999;1(1):63-70.
The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], acts through vitamin D receptors, which were found in rheumatoid tissues in the present study. IL-1β-activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes were shown to respond differently to exposure to 1α,25(OH)2D3, which has different effects on the regulatory pathways of specific matrix metalloproteinases and prostaglandin E2.
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3], the biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3, acts through an intracellular vitamin D receptor (VDR) and has several immunostimulatory effects. Animal studies have shown that production of some matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may be upregulated in rat chondrocytes by administration of 1α,25(OH)2D3; and cell cultures have suggested that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may affect chondrocytic function. Discoordinate regulation by vitamin D of MMP-1 and MMP-9 in human mononuclear phagocytes has also been reported. These data suggest that vitamin D may regulate MMP expression in tissues where VDRs are expressed. Production of 1α,25(OH)2D3 within synovial fluids of arthritic joints has been shown and VDRs have been found in rheumatoid synovial tissues and at sites of cartilage erosion. The physiological function of 1α,25(OH)2D3 at these sites remains obscure. MMPs play a major role in cartilage breakdown in the rheumatoid joint and are produced locally by several cell types under strict control by regulatory factors. As 1α,25(OH)2D3 modulates the production of specific MMPs and is produced within the rheumatoid joint, the present study investigates its effects on MMP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production in two cell types known to express chondrolytic enzymes.
To investigate VDR expression in rheumatoid tissues and to examine the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on cultured rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts (RSFs) and human articular chondrocytes (HACs) with respect to MMP and PGE2 production.
Rheumatoid synovial tissues were obtained from arthroplasty procedures on patients with late-stage rheumatoid arthritis; normal articular cartilage was obtained from lower limb amputations. Samples were embedded in paraffin, and examined for presence of VDRs by immunolocalisation using a biotinylated antibody and alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated avidin-biotin complex system. Cultured synovial fibroblasts and chondrocytes were treated with either 1α,25(OH)2D3, or interleukin (IL)-1β or both. Conditioned medium was assayed for MMP and PGE2 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the results were normalised relative to control values.
The rheumatoid synovial tissue specimens (n = 18) immunostained for VDRs showed positive staining but at variable distributions and in no observable pattern. VDR-positive cells were also observed in association with some cartilage-pannus junctions (the rheumatoid lesion). MMP production by RSFs in monolayer culture was not affected by treatment with 1α,25(OH)2D3 alone, but when added simultaneously with IL-1β the stimulation by IL-1β was reduced from expected levels by up to 50%. In contrast, 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a slight stimulatory effect on basal production of MMPs 1 and 3 by monolayer cultures of HACs, but stimulation of MMP-1 by IL-1β was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 whilst MMP-3 production was enhanced (Table 1). The production of PGE2 by RSFs was unaffected by 1α,25(OH)2D3 addition, but when added concomitantly with IL-1β the expected IL-1 β-stimulated increase was reduced to almost basal levels. In contrast, IL-1β stimulation of PGE2 in HACs was not affected by the simultaneous addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3 (Table 2). Pretreatment of RSFs with 1α,25(OH)2D3 for 1 h made no significant difference to IL-1β-induced stimulation of PGE2, but incubation for 16 h suppressed the expected increase in PGE2 to control values. This effect was also noted when 1α,25(OH)2D3 was removed after the 16h and the IL-1 added alone. Thus it appears that 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not interfere with the IL-1β receptor, but reduces the capacity of RSFs to elaborate PGE2 after IL-1β induction.
Cells within the rheumatoid lesion which expressed VDR were fibroblasts, macrophages, lymphocytes and endothelial cells. These cells are thought to be involved in the degradative processes associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), thus providing evidence of a functional role of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in RA. MMPs may play important roles in the chondrolytic processes of the rheumatoid lesion and are known to be produced by both fibroblasts and chondrocytes. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal MMP production by RSFs, although more pronounced differences were noted when IL-1β-stimulated cells were treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, with the RSF and HAC showing quite disparate responses. These opposite effects may be relevant to the processes of joint destruction, especially cartilage loss, as the ability of 1α,25(OH)2D3 to potentiate MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression by 'activated' chondrocytes might facilitate intrinsic cartilage chondrolysis in vivo. By contrast, the MMP-suppressive effects observed for 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment of 'activated' synovial fibroblasts might reduce extrinsic chondrolysis and also matrix degradation within the synovial tissue. Prostaglandins have a role in the immune response and inflammatory processes associated with RA. The 1α,25(OH)2D3 had little effect on basal PGE2 production by RSF, but the enhanced PGE2 production observed following IL-1β stimulation of these cells was markedly suppressed by the concomitant addition of 1α,25(OH)2D3. As with MMP production, there are disparate effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on IL-1β stimulated PGE2 production by the two cell types; 1α,25(OH)2D3 added concomitantly with IL-1β had no effect on PGE2 production by HACs. In summary, the presence of VDRs in the rheumatoid lesion demonstrates that 1α,25(OH)2D3 may have a functional role in the joint disease process. 1α,25(OH)2D3 does not appear to directly affect MMP or PGE2 production but does modulate cytokine-induced production.
Comparative effects of 1 α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 α,25D3) on interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and MMP-3 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocytes in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
Comparative effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25D3) on Interleukin (IL)-1-stimulated prostaglandin E2 production by rheumatoid synovial fibroblasts and human articular chondrocyte in vivo
Data given are normalized relative to control values and are expressed ± SEM for three cultures of each cell type.
PMCID: PMC17774  PMID: 11056661
1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; matrix metalloproteinase; prostaglandin E2; rheumatoid arthritis
22.  The expansion of CD4+CD28- T cells in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;5(4):R210-R213.
Clonal expansion of CD4+CD28- T cells is a characteristic finding in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Expanded CD4+ clonotypes are present in the peripheral blood, infiltrate into the joints, and persist for years. CD4+CD28- T cells are oligoclonal lymphocytes that are rare in healthy individuals but are found in high percentages in patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. The size of the peripheral blood CD4+CD28- T-cell compartment was determined in 42 patients with RA and 24 healthy subjects by two-color FACS analysis. The frequency of CD4+CD28- T cells was significantly higher in RA patients than in healthy subjects. Additionally, the number of these cells was significantly higher in patients with extra-articular manifestations and advanced joint destruction than in patients with limited joint manifestations. The results suggest that the frequency of CD4+CD28- T cells may be a marker correlating with extra-articular manifestations and joint involvement.
PMCID: PMC165060  PMID: 12823856
arthritis; CD4+CD28-; lymphocytes
23.  Common T cell receptor clonotype in lacrimal glands and labial salivary glands from patients with Sjögren's syndrome. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1996;97(8):1969-1977.
Sjogren's syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune disease characterized by lymphocytic infiltration into lacrimal and salivary glands leading to symptomatic dry eyes and mouth. Immunohistological studies have clarified that the majority of infiltrating lymphocytes around the lacrimal glands and labial salivary glands are CD4 positive alphabeta T cells. To analyze the pathogenesis of T cells infiltrating into lacrimal and labial salivary glands, we examined T cell clonotype of these cells in both glands from four SS patients using PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and a sequencing method. SSCP analysis showed that some infiltrating T cells in both glands expand clonally, suggesting that the cells proliferate by antigen-driven stimulation. Intriguingly, six to sixteen identical T cell receptor (TCR) Vbeta genes were commonly found in lacrimal glands and labial salivary glands from individual patients. This indicates that some T cells infiltrating into both glands recognize the shared epitopes on autoantigens. Moreover, highly conserved amino acid sequence motifs were found in the TCR CDR3 region bearing the same TCR Vbeta family gene from four SS patients, supporting the notion that the shared epitopes on antigens are limited. In conclusion, these findings suggest that some autoreactive T cells infiltrating into the lips and eyes recognized restricted epitopes of a common autoantigen in patients with SS.
PMCID: PMC507267  PMID: 8621782
24.  FcgammaR expression on macrophages is related to severity and chronicity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during experimental immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA) 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):489-503.
We investigated the role of Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) on synovial macrophages in immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). ICA elicited in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a short-lasting, florid inflammation and reversible loss of proteoglycans (PGs), moderate chondrocyte death, and minor erosion of the cartilage. In contrast, when ICA was induced in knee joints of Fc receptor (FcR) γ-chain-/- C57BL/6 mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII, inflammation and cartilage destruction were prevented. When ICA was elicited in DBA/1 mice, a very severe, chronic inflammation was observed, and significantly more chondrocyte death and cartilage erosion than in arthritic C57BL/6 mice. The synovial lining and peritoneal macrophages of naïve DBA/1 mice expressed a significantly higher level of FcγRs than was seen in C57BL/6 mice. Moreover, elevated and prolonged expression of IL-1 was found after stimulation of these cells with immune complexes. Zymosan or streptococcal cell walls caused comparable inflammation and only mild cartilage destruction in all strains. We conclude that FcγR expression on synovial macrophages may be related to the severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during ICA.
Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) present on cells of the haematopoietic lineage communicate with IgG-containing immune complexes that are abundant in the synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In mice, three classes of FcγR (RI, RII, and RIII) have been described. Binding of these receptors leads to either activation (FcγRI and RIII) or deactivation (FcγRII) of intracellular transduction pathways. Together, the expression of activating and inhibitory receptors is thought to drive immune-complex-mediated diseases.
Earlier studies in our laboratory showed that macrophages of the synovial lining are of utmost importance in the onset and propagation of immune-complex-driven arthritic diseases. Selective depletion of macrophages in the joint downregulated both inflammation and cartilage destruction. As all three classes of FcγR are expressed on synovial macrophages, these cells are among the first that come in contact with immune complexes deposited in the joint. Recently, we observed that when immune complexes were injected into the knee joints of mice, strains susceptible to collagen-type-II arthritis (DBA/1, B10.RIII) developed more severe arthritis than nonsusceptible strains did, or even developed chronic arthritis. One reason why these strains are more susceptible might be their higher levels of FcγRs on macrophage membranes. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the role of FcγRs in inflammation and cartilage damage during immune-complex-mediated arthritis (ICA). First, we studied arthritis and subsequent cartilage damage in mice lacking functional FcγRI and RIII (FcR γ-chain-/- mice). Next, DBA/1 mice, which are prone to develop collagen-type-II arthritis (`collagen-induced arthritis'; CIA) and are hypersensitive to immune complexes, were compared with control C57BL/6 mice as regards cartilage damage and the expression and function of FcγRs on their macrophages.
To examine whether FcγR expression on macrophages is related to severity of synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction during immune-complex-mediated joint inflammation.
ICA was induced in three strains of mice (FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6, and DBA/1, which have, respectively, no functional FcγRI and RIII, intermediate basal expression of FcγRs, and high basal expression of FcγRs) by passive immunisation using rabbit anti-lysozyme antibodies, followed by poly-L-lysine lysozyme injection into the right knee joint 1 day later. In other experiments, streptococcal-cell-wall (SCW)- or zymosan-induced arthritis was induced by injecting SCW (25 μg) or zymosan (180 μg) directly into the knee joint. At several time points after arthritis induction, knee joints were dissected and studied either histologically (using haematoxylin/eosin or safranin O staining) or immuno-histochemically. The arthritis severity and the cartilage damage were scored separately on an arbitrary scale of 0-3.
FcγRs were immunohistochemically detected using the monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII. Deposition of IgG and C3c in the arthritic joint tissue was also detected immunohistochemically. Expression of FcγRs by murine peritoneal macrophages was measured using a fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS).
Peritoneal macrophages were stimulated using heat-aggregated gamma globulins (HAGGs), and production of IL-1 was measured using a bioassay. To assess the levels of IL-1 and its receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) during arthritis, tissue was dissected and washed in RPMI medium. Washouts were tested for levels of IL-1 and IL-1Ra using radioimmunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. mRNA was isolated from the tissue, and levels of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-2, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, IL-1, and IL-1Ra were determined using semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
ICA induced in knee joints of C57BL/6 mice caused a florid inflammation at day 3 after induction. To investigate whether this arthritis was FcγR-mediated, ICA was induced in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, which lack functional FcγRI and RIII. At day3, virtually no inflammatory cells were found in their knee joints. Levels of mRNA of IL-1, IL-1Ra, MCP-1, and MIP-2, which are involved in the onset of this arthritis, were significantly lower in FcR γ-chain-/- mice than in control C57BL/6 mice. Levels of IL-1 protein were also measured. At 6 h after ICA induction, FcR γ-chain-/- mice and control C57BL/6 mice showed similar IL-1 production as measured by protein level. By 24 h after induction, however, IL-1 production in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice was below the detection limit, whereas the controls were still producing a significant amount. To investigate whether the difference in reaction to immune complexes between the DBA/1 and C57BL/6 mice might be due to variable expression of FcγRs in the knee joint, expression in situ of FcγRs in naïve knee joints of these mice was determined. The monoclonal antibody 2.4G2, which detects both FcγRII and RIII, stained macrophages from the synovial lining of DBA/1 mice more intensely than those from C57BL/6 mice. This finding suggests a higher constitutive expression of FcγRs by macrophages of the autoimmune-prone DBA/1 mice. To quantify the difference in FcγR expression on macrophages of the two strains, we determined the occurrence of FcγRs on peritoneal macrophages by FACS analysis. The levels of FcγR expressed by macrophages were twice as high in the DBA/1 mice as in the C57BL/6 mice (mean fluorescence, respectively, 440 ± 50 and 240 ± 30 intensity per cell). When peritoneal macrophages of both strains were stimulated with immune complexes (HAGGs), we found that the difference in basal FcγR expression was functional. The stimulated macrophages from DBA/1 mice had significantly higher IL-1α levels (120 and 135 pg/ml at 24 and 48 h, respectively) than cells from C57BL/6 mice (45 and 50 pg/ml, respectively).
When arthritis was induced using other arthritogenic triggers than immune complexes (zymosan, SCW), all the mouse strains tested (DBA/1, FcR γ-chain-/-, and C57BL/6) showed similar inflammation, indicating that the differences described above are found only when immune complexes are used to elicit arthritis.
We next compared articular cartilage damage in arthritic joints of the three mouse strains FcR γ-chain-/-, C57BL/6 (intermediate basal expression of FcγRs), and DBA/1 (high basal expression of FcγRs). Three indicators of cartilage damage were investigated: depletion of PGs, chondrocyte death, and erosion of the cartilage matrix. At day 3 after induction of ICA, there was no PG depletion in FcR γ-chain-/- mice, whereas PG depletion in the matrix of the C57BL/6 mice was marked and that in the arthritic DBA/1 mice was even greater. PG depletion was still massive at days 7 and 14 in the DBA/1 mice, whereas by day 14 the PG content was almost completely restored in knee joints of the C57BL/6 mice. Chondrocyte death and erosion of cartilage matrix, two indicators of more severe cartilage destruction, were significantly higher in the DBA/1 than in the C57BL/6 mice, while both indicators were completely absent in the FcR γ-chain-/- mice. Again, when arthritis was induced using other triggers (SCW, zymosan), all strains showed similar PG depletion and no chondrocyte death or matrix erosion. These findings underline the important role of immune complexes and FcγRs in irreversible cartilage damage.
Our findings indicate that inflammation and subsequent cartilage damage caused by immune complexes may be related to the occurrence of FcγRs on macrophages. The absence of functional FcγRI and RIII prevented inflammation and cartilage destruction after induction of ICA, whereas high basal expression of FcγRs on resident joint macrophages of similarly treated mice susceptible to autoimmune arthritis was correlated with markedly more synovial inflammation and cartilage destruction. The difference in joint inflammation between the three strains was not due to different susceptibilities to inflammation per se, since intra-articular injection of zymosan or SCW caused comparable inflammation. Although extensive inflammatory cell mass was found in the synovium of all strains after intra-articular injection of zymosan, no irreversible cartilage damage (chondrocyte death or matrix erosion) was found. ICA induced in C57BL/6 and DBA/1 mice did cause irreversible cartilage damage at later time points, indicating that immune complexes and FcγRs play an important role in inducing irreversible cartilage damage. Macrophages communicate with immune complexes via Fcγ receptors. Absence of functional activating receptors completely abrogates the synovial inflammation, as was shown after ICA induction in FcR γ-chain-/- mice. However, the γ-chain is essential not only in FcγRI and RIII but also for FcεRI (found on mast cells) and the T cell receptor (TcR)-CD3 (Tcells) complex of γδT cells. However, T, B, or mast cells do not play a role in this arthritis that is induced by passive immunisation. Furthermore, this effect was not caused by a difference in clearance of IgG or complement deposition in the tissue. In this study, DBA/1 mice, which are susceptible to collagen-induced autoimmune arthritis and in a recent study have been shown to react hypersensitively to immune complexes, are shown to express higher levels of FcγRs on both synovial and peritoneal macrophages. Because antibodies directed against the different subclasses of FcγR are not available, no distinction could be made between FcγRII and RIII. Genetic differences in DBA/1 mice in genes coding for or regulating FcγRs may be responsible for altered FcγR expression. If so, these mouse strains would have a heightened risk for immune-complex-mediated diseases.
To provide conclusive evidence for the roles of the various classes of FcγR during ICA, experiments are needed in which FcγRs are blocked with specific antibodies, or in which knockout mice lacking one specific class of FcγR are used. The only available specific antibody to FcγR (2.4G2) has a stimulatory effect on cells once bound to the receptor, and therefore cannot be used in blocking experiments. Experiments using specific knockout mice are now being done in our laboratory.
Macrophages are the dominant type of cell present in chronic inflammation during RA and their number has been shown to correlate well with severe cartilage destruction. Apart from that, in humans, these synovial tissue macrophages express activating FcRs, mainly FcγIIIa, which may lead to activation of these macrophages by IgG-containing immune complexes. The expression of FcRs on the surface of these cells may have important implications for joint inflammation and severe cartilage destruction and therefore FCRs may constitute a new target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC17821  PMID: 11056679
autoimmunity; cytokines; Fc receptors; inflammation; macrophages
25.  Spectratyping analysis of the islet-reactive T cell repertoire in diabetic NOD Igμnull mice after polyclonal B cell reconstitution 
Non Obese Diabetic mice lacking B cells (NOD.Igμnull mice) do not develop diabetes despite their susceptible background. Upon reconstitution of B cells using a chimera approach, animals start developing diabetes at 20 weeks of age.
We have used the spectratyping technique to follow the T cell receptor (TCR) V beta repertoire of NOD.Igμnull mice following B cell reconstitution. This technique provides an unbiased approach to understand the kinetics of TCR expansion. We have also analyzed the TCR repertoire of reconstituted animals receiving cyclophosphamide treatment and following tissue transplants to identify common aggressive clonotypes.
We found that B cell reconstitution of NOD.Igμnull mice induces a polyclonal TCR repertoire in the pancreas 10 weeks later, gradually diversifying to encompass most BV families. Interestingly, these clonotypic BV expansions are mainly confined to the pancreas and are absent from pancreatic lymph nodes or spleens. Cyclophosphamide-induced diabetes at 10 weeks post-B cell reconstitution reorganized the predominant TCR repertoires by removing potential regulatory clonotypes (BV1, BV8 and BV11) and increasing the frequency of others (BV4, BV5S2, BV9, BV16-20). These same clonotypes are more frequently present in neonatal pancreatic transplants under the kidney capsule of B-cell reconstituted diabetic NOD.Igμnull mice, suggesting their higher invasiveness. Phenotypic analysis of the pancreas-infiltrating lymphocytes during diabetes onset in B cell reconstituted animals show a predominance of CD19+ B cells with a B:T lymphocyte ratio of 4:1. In contrast, in other lymphoid organs (pancreatic lymph nodes and spleens) analyzed by FACS, the B:T ratio was 1:1. Lymphocytes infiltrating the pancreas secrete large amounts of IL-6 and are of Th1 phenotype after CD3-CD28 stimulation in vitro.
Diabetes in NOD.Igμnull mice appears to be caused by a polyclonal repertoire of T cell accumulation in pancreas without much lymphoid organ involvement and is dependent on the help by B cells.
PMCID: PMC3141497  PMID: 21722394
NOD; NOD.Igμnull; diabetes; immunoscope; T cell receptor; B cells; IL-6

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