Oligoclonal expansion of circulating and tissue-infiltrating CD8+ T Cells with killer/effector phenotypes in juvenile dermatomyositis syndrome

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Although triggering by infectious agents and abnormal immune responses may play some role in the pathogenesis of juvenile dermatomyositis syndrome (JDMS), the precise mechanism of muscle destruction and vascular damage is largely unknown. In this study, we tried to elucidate the role of cytotoxic T cells in two patients with JDMS, who were diagnosed based on the characteristic symptoms, laboratory data, MRI findings and electromyographic patterns. Peripheral blood T cell phenotypes were determined by flow cytometry, using mAbs against specific T cell receptor (TCR) Vβs. Complementarity-determining region3 (CDR3) size analysis was performed by gene scanning of CDR3 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification products specific for each Vβ. Subsequently, CDR3 nucleotide sequences were obtained after cloning of the predominant products. The distribution of lymphocytes infiltrating the muscle tissue was analysed by immunohistochemistry. In both patients examined, a unique combination of TCR Vβ repertoires was increased within the CD8+ T cells. These subpopulations expressed a characteristic phenotype, indicating that they are memory/effector T cells with killer functions. At the same time, immunohistological and molecular biological examinations of the biopsied muscle samples revealed that identical CD8+ T cell clones with identical phenotypes/TCR Vβ infiltrated within the inflammatory tissue, in particular around vessels. These findings indicate that oligoclonal expansion of CD8+ T cells plays a central role in the pathogenesis of muscle injury in the juvenile form of dermatomyositis syndrome and may provide a useful clinical parameter of disease activity and responsiveness to anti-inflammatory therapy.

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