T-cell diversity is generated through the production of new thymic emigrants. Thymic function declines with age, and the T-cell pool is maintained through homeostatic proliferation of naive peripheral T cells. This article discusses the impact of thymic output and peripheral T-cell homeostasis on the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is proposed that thymic output is prematurely compromised in RA patients. A compensatory expansion of peripheral T cells results in a contracted and distorted repertoire, possibly favoring T cells with autoreactive potential. Increased risk of autoimmunity, as a consequence of abnormal T-cell population dynamics, could be a common mechanism in chronic inflammatory diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy