Selective expansion of specific T cell receptors in the inflamed colon of Crohn's disease

J Clin Invest. 1996 Sep 15;98(6):1344-54. doi: 10.1172/JCI118921.


To identify disease-specific T cell changes that occur in Crohn's disease (CD), the T cell receptor BV repertoires of lamina propria lymphocytes (LPL) isolated from both the inflamed and "disease-inactive" colons of seven CD patients were compared by the quantitative PCR and DNA sequence analysis. It was observed that the BV repertoires of LPL isolated from the disease-active and disease-inactive parts of the colon from the same individual were very different. Furthermore, nearly all of the differences occurred in CD4+ LPL, with very few differences in the CD8+ population of LPL. Although the pattern of BV segments that was increased in disease-active tissue relative to disease-inactive tissue was different for all seven CD patients, there were several BV segments that increased uniformly in the disease-active tissue of all seven individuals. CDR3 length analysis and DNA sequencing of these BV segments revealed that in six of the seven CD patients there was a striking degree of oligoclonality that was absent from disease-inactive tissue of the same individual. These observations suggest that at least some of the inflammation in CD is the result of responses by CD4+ T cells to specific antigens. The isolation of such inflammation-specific CD4+ T cells may make it possible to identify the antigens that are responsible for the inflammatory process in CD and provide a better understanding of its pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Basement Membrane / cytology
  • Basement Membrane / immunology
  • CD3 Complex / analysis
  • CD4 Antigens / analysis
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8 Antigens / analysis
  • Clone Cells / immunology
  • Crohn Disease / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • CD3 Complex
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell