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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Is a Specific Antigen-Driven T Cell Disease


Address for correspondence: Chris D. Platsoucas, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, 3400 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140. Voice: 215-707-7929; fax: 215-829-1320.


Abstract: To determine whether monoclonal/oligoclonal T cells are present in abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) lesions, we amplified β-chain T cell receptor (TCR) transcripts from these lesions by the nonpalindromic adaptor (NPA)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR)/V-β-specific PCR followed by cloning and sequencing. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of substantial proportions of identical β-chain TCR transcripts in AAA lesions in 9 of 10 patients examined, strongly suggesting the presence of oligoclonal populations of αβ TCR+ T cells. We have also shown the presence of oligoclonal populations of γδ TCR+ T cells in AAA lesions. Sequence analysis after appropriate PCR amplification and cloning revealed the presence of substantial proportions of identical VγI and VγII TCR transcripts in 15 of 15 patients examined, and of Vδ1 and Vδ2 TCR transcripts in 12 of 12 patients. These clonal expansions were very strong. All these clonal expansions were statistically significant by the binomial distribution. In other studies, we determined that mononuclear cells infiltrating AAA lesions express early- (CD69), intermediate- (CD25, CD38), and late- (CD45RO, HLA class II) activation antigens. These findings suggest that active ongoing inflammation is present in the aortic wall of patients with AAA. These results demonstrate that oligoclonal αβ TCR+ and γδ TCR+T cells are present in AAA lesions. These oligoclonal T cells have been clonally expanded in vivo in response to yet unidentified antigens. Although the antigenic specificity of these T cells remains to be determined, these T cells may play a significant role in the initiation and/or the propagation of the AAA. It appears that AAA is a specific antigen-driven T cell disease.