Superantigens: Biology, immunology, and potential role in disease

Charles G. Drake, Brian L. Kotzin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Superantigens are unique products of bacteria and viruses which, in combination with class II major histocompatibility complex molecules, are capable of stimulating a large fraction of T cells in an affected individual. This stimulation primarily involves the variable region of the T cell receptor beta chain (Vβ). The discovery of superantigens and the elucidation of their immunologic properties have provided valuable tools for the investigation of the immune system in both normal and diseased animals. Most importantly, recent work suggests that superantigens play a role in a number of diverse pathological conditions, including toxic shock syndrome and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • autoimmune disease
  • bacterial toxins
  • endogenous retroviruses
  • Superantigens
  • T-cell activation
  • T-cell receptor
  • toxic shock syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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