Identifying T cell clones associated with human autoimmunity has remained challenging. Intriguingly, many autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), show strongly diminished activity during pregnancy, providing a unique research paradigm to explore dynamics of immune repertoire changes during active and inactive disease. Here, we characterize immunomodulation at the single-clone level by sequencing the T cell repertoire in healthy women and female MS patients over the course of pregnancy. Clonality is significantly reduced from the first to third trimester in MS patients, indicating that the T cell repertoire becomes less dominated by expanded clones. However, only a few T cell clones are substantially modulated during pregnancy in each patient. Moreover, relapse-associated T cell clones identified in an individual patient contract during pregnancy and expand during a postpartum relapse. Our data provide evidence that profiling the T cell repertoire during pregnancy could serve as a tool to discover and track "private" T cell clones associated with disease activity in autoimmunity.
Keywords: T cell receptor α and β pairing; human; immune phenotyping; immune tolerance; immunosequencing; multiple sclerosis; pregnancy; repertoire sequencing.
Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.