Approaches for studying the pathogenic T cells in autoimmune patients

N. Willcox, F. Baggi, A. P. Batocchi, B. D. Beeson, G. Harcourt, S. Hawke, L. Jacobson, H. Matsuo, A. M. Moody, N. Nagvekar, M. Nicolle, B. Ong, N. Pantic, J. Newsom-Davis, A. Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Our provisional conclusions from this work are as follows. (1) For screening responses of established lines, native human AChR is not prohibitively scarce especially if it is concentrated onto beads, and class II-transfected TE671 cells may be useful too; both may give vital evidence of AChR-specificity, but it is still crucial to confirm that with synthetic peptides. (2) For mapping epitopes, panels of full-length and shorter recombinant human polypeptides, and of synthetic peptides, are invaluable complementary material: longer peptides tend to stimulate particularly strongly. (3) Initial selection with pooled synthetic peptides can easily generate interesting lines from both patients and controls, but they may depend on the artificial processing sites that are an inevitable consequence of arbitrarily chosen start and stop points. Of course, these might conceivably be employed in unusual antigen-presenting cells (such as thymic myoid cells), so we cannot totally dismiss such 'cryptic' epitopes. This system can sometimes select T cells responding to 'natural' epitopes too, as now reported for tetanus toxin. Nevertheless, for these and other reasons, at present, we strongly favor using the longest human recombinant material possible, because it is apparently processed more naturally. This must be combined with rigorous screening for reactivity to E. coli-derived contaminants plus concomitant mapping of epitopes as above. Use of intact AChR for initiating lines may yet become feasible. (4) The T cells thus isolated and characterized so far are proving to be heterogeneous in the epitopes and presenting class II molecules they recognize, and in their T-cell receptor gene usage. It is premature to claim key myasthenogenic epitopes or clonotypes, but HLA-DR3 and the linked -DQw2 do not appear to monopolize presentation. (5) Assessing the disease-relevance of these T cells is a separate problem, highlighted by their apparent similarity in healthy controls. In the meantime, to test their potential pathogenicity, we are assaying their cytokine profiles and ability to help specific antibody production in vitro. In the hope that they do prove to be relevant, we are also using some of them to test possible therapeutic strategies that might prove applicable in the patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-237
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume681
Publication statusPublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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