OBJECTIVES: To investigate local cellular immune responses in patients with acute urethritis. METHODS: We have established T cell lines from the urethral exudate and examined their phenotype by flow cytometry. As controls, T cell lines were cultured from first pass urine specimens of asymptomatic healthy individuals. RESULTS: Using interleukin 2 (IL-2) alone a T cell line was obtained on only one occasion. Following culture with IL-2, and subsequent expansion by a single stimulation with irradiated allogenic peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), and IL-2, it was possible to establish T cell lines from 6/6 acute urethritis patients. T cell lines were also obtained from 4/12 controls subjects, but required repetitive rounds of stimulation with mitogen and allogeneic PBMC to produce sufficient cell numbers for analysis. Three of the patient T cell lines were dominated by T cells expressing the gamma delta receptor. CONCLUSION: The gamma delta T cell subset has been associated with immune responses at mucosal surfaces and has the ability to recognise certain bacterial antigens. The gamma delta T cell response may represent an important aspect of the immune response to organisms associated with acute urethritis.
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