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Clinical significance of increased CD4+CD25Foxp3+ T cells in patients with new-onset systemic lupus erythematosus
  1. B Zhang1,
  2. X Zhang1,
  3. F L Tang1,
  4. L P Zhu2,
  5. Y Liu2,
  6. P E Lipsky3
  1. 1
    Department of Rheumatology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China
  2. 2
    Department of Immunology, Institute of Basic Medical Science, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China
  3. 3
    Autoimmunity Branch, NIAMS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Professor X Zhang, Department of Rheumatology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, 1 Shuaifuyuan, Dongcheng District, 100730, Beijing, China; zxpumch2003{at}yahoo.com.cn

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the expressions of Foxp3 and CD25 on CD4+ T cells from patients with new-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and assess their clinical significance.

Methods: 10 patients with active (systemic lupus erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) ⩾10) and 11 with inactive (SLEDAI ⩽5) new-onset SLE as well as 11 healthy volunteers were enrolled. The expressions of CD25, Foxp3 and CD127 on CD4+ T cells were analysed by flow cytometry. Proliferation assays were performed on isolated CD4+CD25+ or CD4+CD25 T cells, or both.

Results: There was no significant difference in the number of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cells in subjects with either active or inactive SLE compared with normal controls (p>0.05). Moreover, the suppressive capacity of CD4+CD25+ T cells in patients with new-onset lupus was not impaired as measured by the ability to inhibit proliferation of CD4+CD25 T cells. Interestingly, CD4+CD25Foxp3+ T cells in new-onset lupus (2.97–10.94%) were significantly more frequent than in normal controls (1.01–3.62%) (p<0.01), and correlated positively with the titres of anti-dsDNA antibodies (p = 0.029). Few of these cells expressed CD127. Treatment with glucocorticoids and cyclophosphamide reduced CD4+CD25Foxp3+ T cells in 8 of 10 patients with active disease.

Conclusions: There was a significant increase in CD4+CD25Foxp3+ T cells in patients with new-onset SLE that correlated with anti-dsDNA titres, whereas no alteration in either the percentage or function of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T cells was observed.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Funding: This work was supported by New Century Excellent Talents Ministry of Education of China (NCET-04-0191), National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (30400410), Natural Sciences Foundation of Beijing (7052052), and National Program for Key Basic Research Project (2007CB512405 for Immunology), Ministry of Science and Technology, China.

  • Ethics approval: Approved by the ethics committee of Peking Union Medical College Hospital.

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