Presentation of Bacterial Antigens to T Lymphocytes
T lymphocytes use specific receptors to recognize short linear peptide antigens associated with ‘self’ MHC-encoded molecules on the surface membranes of antigen presenting cells (APC). In comparison B lymphocytes bind specifically free antigen using cell surface immunoglobulin, and antibodies usually recognise configurational epitopes. Besides the recognition of antigen other signals, mediated by accessory molecules and cytokines, may be needed for T cell activation to occur. T lymphocytes can be divided into at least two major subsets on the basis of their function, namely helper T lymphocytes, which facilitate the differentiation of B lymphocytes into antibody-secreting cells, and cytotoxic T lymphocytes which lyse infected cells. Much controversy continues to surround the possible existence of suppressor T lymphocytes as a separate subset. The activation of antigen-specific helper T lymphocytes is a fundamental step in the induction of immune responses. Until recently the mechanisms of antigen presentation had been studied only using experimental protein antigens, such as ovalbumin, but there is now increasing interest in the induction of T lymphocyte responses to bacterial antigens. These mechanisms may be relevant in two ways to the pathogenesis of arthritis. Firstly, in infective arthritis bacteria may be isolated from synovial fluid.
KeywordsMajor Histocompatibility Complex Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Cell Epitope Major Histocompatibility Complex Molecule Bacterial Antigen
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