Studies of autologous T cell activation in the Kunkel laboratory.
Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic
Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
T helper cells and their antigen receptors were topics of keen interest in Henry Kunkel's laboratory during the early 1980s. The activation of human T cells by foreign antigen, allogeneic cells and autologous non-T cells had been established, but the most effective stimulator cells in those responses had not yet been identified. Dendritic cells, along with activated B cells, were demonstrated to be important stimulators of autologous T cells, and studies of peripheral blood from patients with SLE supported the conclusion that the non-T cells in those patients were deficient in their capacity to stimulate an autologous mixed lymphocyte reaction (AMLR). Subsequent studies have defined the role of apoptotic cells processed by dendritic cells in autologous T cell activation. In view of recent data demonstrating depletion of dendritic cell subsets in SLE peripheral blood and recruitment of those cells to sites of immune system activity, it is proposed that SLE T cells are indeed capable of self-reactivity and that the impaired in vitro proliferative response to autologous non-T cells as assessed in the AMLR may reflect the shift of dendritic cells, with their antigen presenting activity augmented by adjuvant-like factors, from peripheral blood to peripheral lymphoid organs and sites of disease.