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Research Article

T cell receptor V beta gene bias in rheumatoid arthritis.

R N Jenkins, A Nikaein, A Zimmermann, K Meek and P E Lipsky

Harold C. Simmons Arthritis Research Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas 75235.

Published December 1993

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology was employed to examine peripheral blood and synovial T cells in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for biased utilization of T cell receptor (TCR) variable region (V) genes. Oligonucleotide primers specific for individual TCR V beta gene families were used to amplify TCR gene products in a semiquantitative assay of their relative utilization in unselected T cell populations. Mean V beta expression in 24 RA peripheral blood samples was very similar to that in a panel of 15 normal subjects, except for a slight decrease in V beta 13.2 expression. V beta utilization in 8 RA synovial tissue samples and 13 synovial fluid samples was compared to simultaneously obtained blood samples. Although heterogeneous patterns of skewed V beta utilization were observed, several significant trends emerged. By a number of approaches to data analysis, a statistically significant increase in expression of V beta 6 and V beta 15 in synovial T cells was documented. In addition, increased synovial expression of V beta 14 was found, but only in the synovial fluid samples. Reduced expression of V beta 1, V beta 4, V beta 5.1, V beta 10, V beta 16, and V beta 19 was also observed in synovial T cells. These results indicate that biased V beta gene utilization in different peripheral compartments of RA patients can be observed in unselected T cell populations, and are consistent with the conclusion that populations of T cells expressing these V beta gene products may be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease.

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