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Phenotype and functional changes of Vγ9/Vδ2 T lymphocytes in Behçet's disease and the effect of infliximab on Vγ9/Vδ2 T cell expansion, activation and cytotoxicity

Antonina Accardo-Palumbo, Anna Rita Giardina, Francesco Ciccia, Angelo Ferrante, Alfonso Principato, Rosalia Impastato, Ennio Giardina and Giovanni Triolo*

Author Affiliations

Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Palermo, piazza delle Cliniche 2, 90127 Palermo, Italy

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R109  doi:10.1186/ar3043

Published: 3 June 2010



Infliximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody against tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) that has been introduced recently for Behçet's disease (BD) patients who were resistant to standard treatment. The aim of this study was to analyse the functional changes of Vγ9/Vδ2 T lymphocytes in both active and inactive disease and the effect of infliximab on Vγ9/Vδ2 T cell expansion, activation and cytotoxicity.


We investigated 1) cell expansion, 2) expression of TNFRII receptor, 3) perforin and gamma interferon (IFN) content, 4) release of granzyme A (GrA) and 5) phenotype changes, in vitro and in vivo, in Vγ9/Vδ2 T lymphocytes by means of fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis of lymphocyte cultures from patients with active and inactive BD and healthy subjects.


Cell expansion, expression of TNFRII, perforin and gamma IFN content and release of granzyme A were significantly higher in active patients. In vitro and ex vivo treatment with infliximab resulted in a significant reduction of all parameters together with changes in the phenotype of Vγ9/Vδ2 T cells.


All together these data indicate that infliximab is capable of interfering with Vγ9/Vδ2 T cell function in BD and although cell culture models cannot reliably predict all potential effects of the drug in vivo, our results present the possibility that this drug may find use in a range of immunological disorders, characterized by dysregulated cell-mediated immunity.