Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the T cell receptor (TCR) family usage in T cell-lines from subcutaneous nodules and synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with specific reference to the duration of symptoms. In vitro adherence characteristics of nodular T cells was studied as well.
Methods: Monoclonal antibodies were used to determine the distribution of TCR families in T cell-lines from synovium of patients with early and long-standing RA, from rheumatoid nodules and control tissues. An in vitro binding assay with T cell-lines from 2 rheumatoid nodules was performed.
Results: In early RA synovium, a restricted TCR family usage was observed in 5 out of 8 patients, contrary to long-standing disease, peripheral blood, ileum and colon. In RA nodules, a similar degree of restriction was noted. Moreover, the same TCR family was overexpressed by T cell-lines from different nodules derived from the same patient. T cell-lines from rheumatoid nodules demonstrated a preferential in vitro adherence to rheumatoid synovium and rheumatoid nodules, while no binding was observed on skin or tonsil.
Conclusion: The TCR spectrum among RA synovial cell-lines broadens in relation to the disease duration. The overexpression of the same TCR family in different rheumatoid nodules from the same patients, and the in vitro adherence of T cell-lines from rheumatoid nodules may be indicative for recirculation between the different disease manifestations in RA.