OBJECTIVE--To investigate the role of CD8 cell subsets in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the phenotypes of T cells adherent or non-adherent to the target cells (endothelial cells and synovial cells) pre-treated with IL-1 beta. METHODS--The expression of S6F1 on CD8 cells and that of an activation marker on CD8 cells and CD8 cell subsets was evaluated in specimens of peripheral blood and synovial fluid obtained from 15 patients with RA and 10 with osteoarthritis (OA) using a two- or three-colour immunofluorescence method for analysis. RESULTS--The percentage of CD8S6F1 cells among CD8 cells in synovial fluid was significantly greater than that of peripheral blood. Synovial fluid from RA patients had a greater percentage of CD8S6F1 cells compared with either peripheral blood of matched patients or synovial fluid of OA patients. The percentage of CD8HLA-DR cells in synovial fluid was markedly greater than that in paired samples of peripheral blood in patients with RA. In the CD8S6F1 cells from both groups of patients, synovial fluid showed an increased percentage of HLA-DR cells compared with peripheral blood. Similar results were observed in CD8 cells lacking S6F1 expression (CD8S6F1-) from both groups of patients. There was no significant difference in the percentage of HLA-DR cells between CD8S6F1 and CD8S6F1- cell populations in peripheral blood. In contrast with peripheral blood, in synovial fluid of RA patients the percentage of HLA-DR cells in the CD8S6F1 cell population was markedly greater than that in the CD8S6F1- population. However, the percentage of HLA-DR cells in both cell populations was similar in synovial fluid of OA patients. In both the endothelial and the synovial cell adhesion assays, the percentage of CD8S6F1 among CD8 cells and the mean fluorescence intensity of S6F1 antigen on CD8S6F1 cells were significantly greater in the adherent T cell population than that in the non-adherent T cell population. CONCLUSION--These results suggest that increased expression of S6F1 antigen and the increased percentage of HLA-DR cells on CD8 cells in synovial fluid may be responsible for the migration of these cells into inflamed synovial tissues, and for cellular interactions between these cells and synovial cells or the extracellular matrix.
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