In rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral blood T cells have age-inappropriate telomeric erosion. We examined whether HLA-DRB1*04 alleles, the major susceptibility genes for this disease, confer risk for T cell senescence. In healthy individuals, HLA-DRB1*04 alleles were associated with excessive loss of telomeres in CD4+ T cells. Accelerated telomeric erosion occurred during the first two decades of life and was followed by reduced homeostatic T cell proliferation during adulthood. Premature telomeric loss also affected granulocytes, suggesting that the hematopoietic stem cell is the primary target. Telomeric repair mechanisms were intact in HLA-DRB1* 04+ donors. We propose that HLA-DRB1*04 alleles or genes in linkage disequilibrium regulate stem cell replication and contribute to the accumulation of senescent and autoreactive T cells in rheumatoid arthritis.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Nov 11 2003|
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