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There is no disease-specific role for streptococci-responsive synovial T lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis

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The initiation or exacerbation of psoriasis vulgaris is associated with infections by group A streptococci. T lymphocytes specific for streptococcal antigens or expressing a restricted, for streptococcal superantigens typical T cell receptor Vβ chain repertoire have been described in psoriatic skin lesions. The aim of our study was, therefore, to clarify whether streptococci-reactive T lymphocytes played a role in the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and by which antigens they might be stimulated. Synovial membrane mononuclear cells from patients with PsA and other arthropathies, separated by collagenase digestion, were expanded in interleukin-2-supplemented medium and subsequently cloned in a representative cloning procedure. The T cell lines and about 30% of the T cell clones proliferated in response to preparations of group A streptococci but not to other bacteria as tested by [3H]thymidine incorporation assays. Interestingly, they did not proliferate in response to exotoxin-negative streptococci, but did so in response to the streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxins A and C, which are known to be superantigens. Accordingly, no HLA-DR restriction was seen for the proliferative response. The remaining 70% of the established T cell clones did not react to an antigen of group A streptococci. Our results show that in patients with PsA, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis a significant number of synovial T lymphocytes were responsive to streptococcal superantigens, but not to conventional streptococcal antigens. A disease-specific role of streptococci-reactive T lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of PsA is, therefore, unlikely.

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Received: 14 December 1999

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Thomssen, H., Hoffmann, B., Schank, M. et al. There is no disease-specific role for streptococci-responsive synovial T lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis. Med Microbiol Immunol 188, 203–207 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004300050007

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  • Key words Psoriatic arthritis
  • Synovial membrane
  • T lymphocytes
  • Streptococcal superantigen