Immunoregulatory CD8+ cells recognize antigen-activated CD4+ cells in myasthenia gravis patients and in healthy controls

M. H. Yuen, M. P. Protti, B. Diethelm-Okita, L. Moiola, J. F. Howard, B. M. Conti- Fine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


CD8+ cells inhibiting the response of CD4+ cells exist in rodents, recognizing epitopes unique to a CD4+ clone (Ids) or expressed by all activated CD4+ cell (ergotypes). Stimulation of CD8+ cells recognizing ergotypes shared by all Ag-activated CD4+ cells would be useful for treatment of diseases involving undesirable CD4+ responses to ill defined Ags, such as many autoimmune diseases and allergies. As a first step toward demonstrating the existence of antiergotype CD8+ immunoregulatory cells in humans, we investigated here whether CD8+ cells recognizing Ag-activated CD4+ cells exist in autoimmune and healthy humans. CD4+ cells specific for human muscle acetylcholine receptor, tetanus, or diphtheria toxoids were propagated from patients with myasthenia gravis patients and healthy controls. Ag-activated CD4+ cells were irradiated and used as Ag to test the response of CD4+-depleted CD8+-enriched PBMC (CD8+ PBMC) from myasthenic patients and controls and to propagate short-term CD8+ cell lines from CD8+ PBMC. In both patients and controls CD8+ PBMC and CD8+ lines responded vigorously to autologous Ag-activated CD4+ cells. The CD8+ lines responded equally well to the Ag-activated CD4+ cells of different Ag specificity, suggesting that they recognized CD4+ ergotypes. They did not seem to respond to CD4+ cells activated by PHA. The CD8+ cells recognized class I- restricted epitopes, as their response to activated CD4+ cells was suppressed by anti-class I Ab. CD8+ cells recognizing Ag-activated CD4+ were present cells in the controls for 5 to 12 wk after immunization. In myasthenic patients, CD8+ cells recognizing activated anti-acetylcholine receptor CD4+ cells seemed to be always present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1508-1520
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


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