Journal of Clinical Immunology

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 55–64 | Cite as

Enhanced peripheral blood T-cell cytotoxicity in inflammatory bowel disease

  • Fergus Shanahan
  • Bernard Leman
  • Richard Deem
  • Adrene Niederlehner
  • Michael Brogan
  • Stephan Targan
Original Articles


Monoclonal antibodies to the CD3 component of the T-cell antigen receptor can trigger antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells to elicit nonantigen-specific cytotoxicity, possibly by mimicking or bypassing the requirement for antigen triggering. We have used this technique to investigate the possible presence ofin vivo primed cytotoxic T cells, of unknown antigen specificity, in peripheral blood of patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Peripheral blood lymphocytes, which were depleted of background natural killer (NK) activity (CD16), from patients with Crohn's disease exhibited significantly enhanced levels of anti-CD3-triggered T-cell cytotoxicity compared with lymphocytes from normal subjects. Enhanced lytic activity was also found in some patients with ulcerative colitis and in patients with ulcerative colitis postcolectomy. These results were not influenced by treatment or disease activity. There was no correlation between the anti-CD3-triggered T lytic activity and the NK activity in normal subjects or in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The surface antigen phenotype of the anti-CD3-triggered T killer cell was CD3+, CD8+, CD16, and Leu 7+. The results provide indirect evidence for increased activity of a subpopulation of cytotoxic T cells, of unknown antigen specificity, in inflammatory bowel disease. Increased activity in patients with ulcerative colitis postcolectomy suggests that this might reflect a fundamental immunological disturbance.

Key words

Crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease cytotoxicity natural killer cell T cell cytotoxic T cell 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fergus Shanahan
    • 1
  • Bernard Leman
    • 1
  • Richard Deem
    • 1
  • Adrene Niederlehner
    • 1
  • Michael Brogan
    • 1
  • Stephan Targan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of California at Los Angeles, Center for the Health SciencesLos Angeles

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