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1.  Recognition of self-heat shock protein 60 by T cells from patients with atopic dermatitis 
Cell Stress & Chaperones  2012;18(1):87-95.
Heat shock protein 60 (hsp60) is a highly conserved stress protein and target of self-reactive T cells in various inflammatory diseases. Not much is known about a possible role in atopic disease. As atopic diseases are considered to be the result of a disturbance in the balance between T helper cells type 2 and regulatory T cells, it is of interest to know whether hsp60 acts as a bystander antigen in atopic disease. Our aim was to investigate whether hsp60 is involved in the chronicity of inflammation of atopic dermatitis (AD). We studied the expression of hsp60 in skin tissue of adults with AD by immunohistochemistry. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of children with AD were cultured with hsp60 and proliferative responses, cytokine secretion, surface markers, and functional assays were compared to responses of PBMC of healthy controls (HC). Hsp60 was detected more in lesional skin of AD patients compared to nonlesional skin. Furthermore, PBMC of children with AD proliferated more strongly in response to hsp60 compared to HC. hsp60-reactive T cells of atopic children produced high levels of IFNγ and low levels of IL-10. In vitro activation with hsp60 leads to the induction of CD4+CD25bright T cells expressing FOXP3 in both HC as well as in atopic children. However, despite their regulatory phenotype, hsp60-induced CD4+CD25brightCD127−FOXP3+ T cells of AD patients were incapable of suppressing effector T cells in vitro. hsp60 is recognized by proinflammatory (IFNγ high, IL-10 low) T cells in atopic patients and is more present in lesional AD skin. This suggests that hsp60-specific T cell responses contribute to local inflammation in AD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12192-012-0361-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3508125  PMID: 22869467
Atopy; Atopic dermatitis; Regulatory T cells; Human heat shock protein 60
2.  Cord Blood CD4+ T Cells Respond to Self Heat Shock Protein 60 (HSP60) 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24119.
To prevent harmful autoimmunity most immune responses to self proteins are controlled by central and peripheral tolerance. T cells specific for a limited set of self-proteins such as human heat shock protein 60 (HSP60) may contribute to peripheral tolerance. It is not known whether HSP60-specific T cells are present at birth and thus may play a role in neonatal tolerance. We studied whether self-HSP60 reactive T cells are present in cord blood, and if so, what phenotype these cells have.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Cord blood mononuclear cells (CBMC) of healthy, full term neonates (n = 21), were cultured with HSP60 and Tetanus Toxoid (TT) to study antigen specific proliferation, cytokine secretion and up-regulation of surface markers. The functional capacity of HSP60-induced T cells was determined with in vitro suppression assays. Stimulation of CBMC with HSP60 led to CD4+ T cell proliferation and the production of various cytokines, most notably IL-10, Interferon-gamma, and IL-6. HSP60-induced T cells expressed FOXP3 and suppressed effector T cell responses in vitro.
Self-reactive HSP60 specific T cells are already present at birth. Upon stimulation with self-HSP60 these cells proliferate, produce cytokines and express FOXP3. These cells function as suppressor cells in vitro and thus they may be involved in the regulation of neonatal immune responses.
PMCID: PMC3172234  PMID: 21931651
3.  Novel self-epitopes derived from aggrecan, fibrillin, and matrix metalloproteinase-3 drive distinct autoreactive T-cell responses in juvenile idiopathic arthritis and in health 
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease characterized by chronic joint inflammation. Knowing which antigens drive the autoreactive T-cell response in JIA is crucial for the understanding of disease pathogenesis and additionally may provide targets for antigen-specific immune therapy. In this study, we tested 9 self-peptides derived from joint-related autoantigens for T-cell recognition (T-cell proliferative responses and cytokine production) in 36 JIA patients and 15 healthy controls. Positive T-cell proliferative responses (stimulation index ≥2) to one or more peptides were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of 69% of JIA patients irrespective of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotype. The peptides derived from aggrecan, fibrillin, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 yielded the highest frequency of T-cell proliferative responses in JIA patients. In both the oligoarticular and polyarticular subtypes of JIA, the aggrecan peptide induced T-cell proliferative responses that were inversely related with disease duration. The fibrillin peptide, to our knowledge, is the first identified autoantigen that is primarily recognized in polyarticular JIA patients. Finally, the epitope derived from MMP-3 elicited immune responses in both subtypes of JIA and in healthy controls. Cytokine production in short-term peptide-specific T-cell lines revealed production of interferon-γ (aggrecan/MMP-3) and interleukin (IL)-17 (aggrecan) and inhibition of IL-10 production (aggrecan). Here, we have identified a triplet of self-epitopes, each with distinct patterns of T-cell recognition in JIA patients. Additional experiments need to be performed to explore their qualities and role in disease pathogenesis in further detail.
PMCID: PMC1794523  PMID: 17129378

Results 1-3 (3)