Peripheral blood T cell expansions in patients with Behcet's disease

Clin Exp Immunol. 1997 Mar;107(3):520-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.1997.d01-947.x.


Behçet's disease (BD) is a chronic multisystemic inflammatory disorder characterized mainly by recurrent oral and genital aphthous ulcerations and uveitis. Etiology and pathogenesis of BD remain unknown. T cell receptor (TCR) V alpha/V beta gene product expression as well as Jbeta gene segment expression in peripheral blood of BD patients were analysed to investigate the possible role of T lymphocytes in the etiopathogenesis of BD. Flow cytometry with 12 TCR V-specific MoAbs was used for TCRV analyses. Jbeta gene segment usage by T cell populations expressing certain V betas was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique with V beta- and C beta-specific primers, Southern blotting of PCR products, and subsequent hybridization with radiolabelled Jbeta gene segment-specific probes. Although 13 of the 23 BD patients exhibited increases in expression of one or more TCR V-gene products, only expansions among the CD4+ T cell subset were significantly more frequent in BD patients (7/23) compared with healthy controls (0/15) (P = 0.019). Six out of eight cases followed for up to 20 months had at least one expansion correlated with disease activity. A strict preference for particular Jbeta gene segments implicating clonality was apparent in all analysed T cell expansions and correlated well with disease activity. These results suggest a possible involvement of antigen-specific T lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of BD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behcet Syndrome / etiology
  • Behcet Syndrome / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multigene Family / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / analysis*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / biosynthesis
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta