• T cells;
  • HLA-B27;
  • nude;
  • transgenic rats;
  • commensal bacteria


HLA-B27 transgenic (TG) rats develop spontaneous colitis when colonized with intestinal bacteria, whereas athymic nude (rnu/rnu) HLA-B27 TG rats remain disease free. The present study was designed to determine whether or not HLA-B27 expression on T cells is required for development of colitis after transfer of mesenteric lymph node (MLN) cells into rnu/rnu HLA-B27 recipients. Athymic nontransgenic (non-TG) and HLA-B27 TG recipients received MLN cells from either TG or non-TG rnu/+ heterozygous donor rats that contain T cells. HLA-B27 TG rnu/rnu recipients receiving either non-TG or TG MLN cells developed severe colitis and had higher caecal MPO and IL-1β levels, and their MLN cells produced more IFN-γ and less IL-10 after in vitro stimulation with caecal bacterial lysate compared to rnu/rnu non-TG recipients that remained disease free after receiving either TG or non-TG cells. Interestingly, proliferating donor TG T cells were detectable one week after adoptive transfer into rnu/rnu TG recipients but not after transfer into non-TG recipients. T cells from either non-TG or TG donors induce colitis in rnu/rnu TG but not in non-TG rats, suggesting that activation of effector T cells by other cell types that express HLA-B27 is pivotal for the pathogenesis of colitis in this model.