Objective: To compare the expression of adhesion molecules on synovial T cells from patients with early spondyloarthropathy (SpA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with special reference to the beta7 integrins alpha4beta7 and alphaEbeta7 in view of their intimate association with intestinal tissue.
Methods: Twenty-five synovial cell lines were generated by interleukin 2 (IL-2) expansion from synovial biopsies of patients with early SpA and RA, obtained from macroscopically inflamed synovial tissue by needle arthroscopy, and subsequently characterized by flow cytometry for CD3, CD4, CD8, L-selectin, CD11a, CD31, CD44, and alpha4beta7 and alphaEbeta7 integrin.
Results: In SpA, the beta7 integrin expression was increased, compared to RA. Furthermore, an inverse relation between alpha4beta7 and alphaEbeta7 was present in SpA (r = -0.75, p < 0.02), as on many mucosal T cells. In contrast, an opposite correlation was noted in RA (r = +0.84, p < 0.01), as similarly described on a subset of circulating T cells.
Conclusion: Increased expression of beta7 integrins was noted on synovial T cell lines from SpA compared to RA, with discriminative correlations between alpha4beta7 and alphaEbeta7. This suggests a different origin of the synovial T cells in these diseases.