The recognition of abnormal forms of HLA-B27 by CD4+ T cells

Curr Mol Med. 2004 Feb;4(1):51-8. doi: 10.2174/1566524043479257.


The MHC class I molecule, HLA-B27 can be expressed as a number of non-conventional forms, in addition to conventional HLA-B27 heterodimers presenting peptide. This has lead to new avenues of research to explain the association of this molecule with SpA. Surprisingly, HLA-B27 transgenic animal models implicated CD4+ T cells, which conventionally interact with MHC class II molecules, not MHC class I molecules, in the pathogenesis of SpA. One hypothesis to explain these finding is that non-conventional forms of HLA-B27, specifically HLA-B27 homodimers, might mimic MHC class II molecules and be recognised by CD4+ T cells. We investigated whether CD4+ T cells from AS patients can interact with HLA-B27, discovering that indeed CD4+ T cells can interact with various forms of HLA-B27. Here we discuss how such interactions between HLA-B27 and CD4+ T cells could occur in vivo and potential contributions of such interactions to the pathogenesis of SpA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Spondylarthropathies / etiology
  • Spondylarthropathies / immunology*


  • HLA-B27 Antigen
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Peptides