Superantigens and chronic rhinosinusitis: Skewing of T-cell receptor Vβ-distributions in polyp-derived CD4+ and CD8+ T cells

David B. Conley*, Anju Tripathi, Kristin A. Seiberling, Robert P. Schleimer, Lydia A. Suh, Kathleen Harris, Mary C. Paniagua, Leslie C. Grammer, Robert C. Kern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Background: Recent studies have suggested that Staphylococcus aureus secrete superantigenic toxins that play a role in the etiology of chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis (CRSwNP). Twenty S. aureus superantigens (SAg's) have been identified, each of which bind the Vβ-region of the T-cell receptor (TCR) outside the peptide-binding site. Approximately 50 distinct Vβ-domains exist in the human repertoire, and distinct SAg's will bind only particular domains generating a pattern of Vβ-enrichment in lymphocytes dependent on the binding characteristics of a given toxin. The aim of this study was to analyze the pattern of Vβ-expression in polyp-derived lymphocytes from CRSwNP patients. Methods: Polyps were harvested from 20 patients with CRSwNP and 3 patients with antrochoanal polyps. Flow cytometry was used to analyze the Vβ-repertoire of polyp-derived CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes. Data were analyzed in light of the known skewing associated with SAg exposure in vivo and in vitro. Skewing was defined as a percentage of Vβ-expression >2 SD of that seen in normal blood. Results: Seven of 20 subjects exhibited skewing in Vβ-domains with strong associations with S. aureus SAg's. The three antrochoanal polyps failed to show any significant Vβ-skewing. Conclusion: This study establishes evidence of S. aureus SAg-T-cell interactions in polyp lymphocytes of 35% of CRSwNP patients. Although these results are consistent with intranasal exposure of polyp lymphocytes to SAg's, additional study is necessary to establish the role of these toxins in disease pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-539
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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