18 cloned T cell lines reactive with Borrelia burgdorferi proteins, all CD3+4+8-TCR-alpha/beta+ and restricted by HLA class II proteins, were isolated from four patients with chronic Lyme arthritis. Analysis of these T cell clones indicated that the T cell response to the Lyme disease spirochete is not oligoclonally restricted; yet all produced the same pattern of lymphokines, resembling that of murine type 1 T helper cells, after antigen-specific or nonspecific stimulation. Therefore, a subset of human CD4+ T cells, with a distinct profile of lymphokine secretion, is selectively activated by the pathogen inciting this chronic inflammatory disease.

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