Highly conserved CDR3 region in circulating CD4+Vβ5+ T cells may be associated with cytotoxic activity in Chagas disease

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SummaryHuman infection with Trypanosoma cruzi leads to Chagas disease, which presents as several different clinical conditions ranging from an asymptomatic form to a severe dilated cardiomyopathy. Several studies have demonstrated that T cells play a critical role in the development of cardiac pathology, as well as in immunoregulation during chronic disease. However, the mechanisms that drive protective or pathogenic T cell response are not known. We have shown that CD4+ T cells from chagasic patients preferentially express T cell receptor (TCR) β-chain variable region (Vβ) 5. The aim of this work was to determine whether T cells expressing this particular Vβ region displayed variable or restricted CDR3 sequences, as an indicator of the nature of the stimulus leading to the activation of these T cells in vivo. Additionally, we aimed to evaluate phenotypic characteristics of these cells that might be associated with pathology. CDR3 junctional region sequencing of Vβ5·1 expressing CD4+ T cells revealed the occurrence of a highly homologous CDR3 region with conserved TCR Jβ region usage among patients with cardiac, but not indeterminate, Chagas disease. Moreover, correlation analysis indicated that the frequency of CD4+Vβ5·1+ cells is associated with granzyme A expression, suggesting that these cells might display cytotoxic function. Together these results provide new insight into T cell recognition of antigens involved in Chagas disease and suggest that these cells may be implicated in the pathogenesis of chagasic cardiomyopathy.

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