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The analysis of T lymphocytes infiltrating tissues afflicted by autoimmune diseases may provide major clues towards understanding the pathogenesis of such diseases. Currently the best approach to studying heterogeneous populations such as T lymphocytes involves long-term culture and cloning. In order to grow and clone T lymphocytes, regular restimulation with the specific antigen is essential, otherwise growth will stop and/or specificity may be lost. In autoimmune diseases the antigens involved in triggering the immunological reaction of T cells are usually unknown. Therefore an alternative way of stimulating T lymphocytes without loss of specificity is clearly needed. Here we describe the cloning and expansion of antigen-specific T cell clones from the blood of a healthy donor to sizeable numbers of cells (greater than 10(8)) by means of anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody and recombinant IL-2. The results obtained showed that this approach can be used to clone and 'expand' T lymphocytes that retain antigen specificity over a prolonged period, in this case over 10 weeks. This technique has been used to clone and expand T lymphocytes infiltrating the affected tissues in a variety of autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves' disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, and is an efficient method of propagating T cells, by mimicking the antigenic stimulus.


Journal article


Scand J Immunol

Publication Date





35 - 46


Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antigen-Presenting Cells, Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, Antigens, Viral, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Autoimmune Diseases, Cells, Cultured, Clone Cells, Humans, Influenza A virus, Interleukin-2, T-Lymphocytes, Thyroiditis, Autoimmune