Gold-specific T lymphocyte clones were isolated from a patient with rheumatoid arthritis who developed delayed type hypersensitivity reactions to gold. All of the isolated T cell clones required histocompatible antigen presenting cells as well as gold for induction of proliferation. Using a panel of HLA-homozygous Epstein Barr virus-transformed B (EBV-B) cells and anti-HLA antibodies, the clones were shown to recognize gold in the context of DR1 molecules. Gold recognition did not require active antigen processing since specific proliferation was not affected by glutaraldehyde fixation of the DR1 homozygous antigen presenting cells. Furthermore, we could show that gold salts inhibited peptide-induced responses of a peptide-specific T cell clone. In addition to providing evidence for gold-specific T cells in gold-treated RA patients exhibiting delayed type hypersensitivity responses, these data suggest that gold can alter MHC-peptide complexes. The latter observation may in part explain the mechanism/s responsible for both the therapeutic and the toxic effects of gold.
P Romagnoli, G A Spinas, F Sinigaglia