Skip to main content

Volume 3 Supplement 2

21st European Workshop for Rheumatology Research

  • Meeting abstract
  • Published:

In vivo preactivated autoreactive Th cells in healthy individuals

The direct analysis of autoantigen-specific Th-cells has been hampered so far by the lack of appropiate methods to directly determine their frequency or functional capabilities. We have applied a set of new techniques to directly identificate and analyze autoantigen-specific T-cells in both affected and healthy people according to their effector functions (e.g. effector cytokine production) after provocation with antigen.

We have used these technologies to analyze Th-cells specific for SLE-associated autoantigens, in particular nucleosomes and the ribonucleoprotein La. Suprisingly, in vivo pre-activated autoantigen-specific Th-cells secreting IFNgamma and TNFalpha, could be detected not only in SLE-patients, but also in normal healthy persons, with frequencies ranging from 0.02% to 0.1%. Preactivation of these cells in vivo was confirmed by the fact that they expressed CD45RO but not CD45RA. Some of them had down-regulated expression of CD45RB and CD27. We also detected in healthy donors in vivo preactivated Th-cell specific for the self-antigen alphaB-Cristallin, a small heat shock protein. Up to 0.5% of peripheral Th cells specifically react with IFNgamma secretion upon short term stimulation, a hallmark of a recall response, i.e. in vivo preactivation.

The fact that in vivo pre-activated, autoantigen-specific Th-cells can be detected at comparable frequencies and with similar cytokine secretion patterns in blood of normal persons and patients suffering from a disease in which such Th cells are suspected to play a pivotal role, points to mechanisms other than central and peripheral tolerance that control the initiation of those autoimmune reactions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Radbruch, A., Nitsch, S., Holzknecht, B. et al. In vivo preactivated autoreactive Th cells in healthy individuals. Arthritis Res Ther 3 (Suppl 2), P058 (2001).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Published:

  • DOI: