An immunohistological analysis of lymphocyte subpopulations and their microenvironment in the synovial membranes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis using monoclonal antibodies

Clin Exp Immunol. 1982 Jul;49(1):22-30.


We have used monoclonal antibodies of the orthoclone (OKT) series to identify T cell subsets in an immunohistological analysis of the synovial membranes obtained from normal individuals and patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. T cells of the inducer and the suppressor/cytotoxic subsets were identified by the OKT4 and OKT8 antibodies respectively while HLA-DR (Ia-like) antigens were recognized by a conventional antiserum. In the normal and osteoarthritic synovial membranes, virtually no lymphocytes were identified whereas the mononuclear cell infiltrates of the rheumatoid synovial membranes were composed predominantly of T cells expressing the OKT4 inducer phenotype with few OKT8+ suppressor/cytotoxic cells. The OKT4+ cells were found to be intimately related to B cells and strongly HLA-DR+ cells which morphologically resembled the interdigitating cells of lymph nodes. The micro-anatomical arrangement of these different cell types in the mononuclear infiltrates of the rheumatoid synovial membranes closely resembled that of the paracortical or T cell dependent area of normal lymph nodes except few OKT8+ lymphocytes were present. These findings are explained in terms of rheumatoid arthritis as a disease of altered T lymphocyte/macrophage immunoregulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / immunology
  • Phenotype
  • Synovial Membrane / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / classification*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II