Concanavalin A (Con A)—induced suppressor T cell activity was determined in 10 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with vasculitis, 34 RA patients without vasculitis, and 10 healthy individuals. The percent Con A—induced suppression in RA patients with vasculitis was 24.6. In contrast, it was 68.4% in those RA patients without vascular lesions. Further, the proportion of T cells reactive with OKT8 monoclonal antibody was also decreased in RA patients with vasculitis. Accordingly, the reduced Con A—induced suppressor T cell activity in these RA patients resulted, in part, from the reduction in the number of cells of the suppressor T cell subset. Those patients with vascular lesions also had a higher percentage of positive antilymphocytotoxic antibodies than RA patients without vasculitis. Since the differences in Con A—induced suppressor T cell activity and frequency of positive antilymphocytotoxic antibodies were so great, we believe RA patients with vasculitis could be recognized as a disease group distinct from RA patients without vasculitis.
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