Cytotoxic T lymphocytes, induced by stimulating the PBMC of an HLA-B27+ normal individual (B27+, AS-) with the PBMC of an HLA-identical sibling suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (AS) (B27+, AS+), specifically lyse B27+, AS+ PBMC but not PBMC from HLA-27+ or B27-, AS- normal controls, or from HLA-B27- AS patients (B27-,AS+). CTL of similar specificity can also be raised by immunizing in vitro B27+,AS- cells with autologous cells modified by cross-reactive bacterial antigens. These results suggest that CTL can recognize certain bacterial antigens in association with HLA-B27 and that this interaction may lead to an inflammatory episode during the initial stages of the disease.

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