CD4 TCRBV CDR3 analysis in prevalent SLE cases from two ethnic groups.
ABSTRACT We examined CD4+ T cell TCRBV-CDR3 transcripts from 19 lupus patients and 16 controls to test the hypothesis that CD4+ TCRBV-CDR3 expression in SLE differs from normals. Within the disease group we also performed exploratory analyses to determine the association between risk of oligoclonality and HLA-DRB specificities and the duration of the CDR3 patterns. Oligoclonal patterns consistent with CDR3 restriction were three times more likely in SLE than in controls (OR = 3.7). TCRBV1, BV4, BV5.1, BV7, BV9, BV18 and BV22 gene segment CDR3 patterns of oligoclonality were seen exclusively among lupus patients. HLA-DRB3 increased the risk of oligoclonal expression in SLE. In four patients studied over time, the pattern of TCRBV-CDR3 expression was stable in a second sample obtained 6-14 months later. The increased frequency of CD4+ T cell TCRBV-CDR3 oligoclonal expression in SLE when compared to controls and the persistence of these patterns are consistent with an expanded pool of autoreactive CD4 T cells in SLE which recognize peptides derived from autoantigens. The association of HLA-DRB3 genes with increased risk of CDR3 oligoclonality among the SLE subjects is compatible with the hypothesis that molecules encoded by HLA-DRB3 may facilitate autoantigen recognition by CD4 T cells.