We compared the state of activation and proliferation of T cells in synovial tissue (ST) from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in early and late stages of the disease to find out whether T-cell-driven immune responses vary during the course of the disease. ST was obtained from 12 patients with early RA (< 1 year) and 12 patients with longstanding RA (> 5 years). T cells and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma)-positive cells were detected in ST using immunohistologic methods. To determine the percentage of T cells expressing the interleukin-2 receptor, IFN-gamma, or the proliferation associated antigen Ki-67, immunofluorescence double-staining techniques were used. The scores for the number of T cells and for the expression of IFN-gamma as well as the percentages of T cells expressing CD25, IFN-gamma, or Ki-67 in rheumatoid synovium were not dependent on disease duration. These results do not support the assumption that the responsiveness of T cells in ST of RA patients differs between early and late stages of the disease. The data indicate that at present no arguments exist that the effect of T-cell-directed interventions on synovial inflammation might vary in different stages of the disease.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.