Article Text

OP0196 An Alteration in Circulating CXCR5+CD4+ T Cell Subsets in RA Patients is Associated with Increased Circulating Plasmablasts
  1. I. Arroyo-Villa1,
  2. M.-B. Bautista-Caro1,
  3. A. Balsa1,
  4. P. Aguado1,
  5. A. Villalba1,
  6. C. Plasencia1,
  7. E. Martín-Mola1,
  8. M.-E. Miranda-Carus1
  1. 1Rheumatology, Hospital La Paz - idiPAZ, Madrid, Spain


Background RA is an autoimmune condition characterized by chronic joint inflammation. Tfh cells, a recently described Th subset localized in lymphoid organs, help B cell differentiation and function. Circulating central memory CD4 T cells expressing CXCR5 can be subdivided into three different subpopulations based on the combined expression of surface CXCR5 with or without CCR6 and/or CXCR3: CXCR5+CXCR3+CCR6- (Tfh-Th1), CXCR5+CXCR3-CCR6+ (Tfh-Th17) and CXCR5+CXCR3-CCR6- (Tfh-Th2). Only Tfh-Th17 and Tfh-Th2 cells have been demonstrated to display functional properties of Tfh cells; in contrast Tfh-Th1 cells are unable to provide B cell help. An altered proportion of these subpopulations has been associated with autoimmune diseases.

Objectives To study the frequency of circulating CXCR5+CD4+ T cell subsets together with the frequency of circulating plasmablasts (CD19+CD20-CD27+CD38high B cells) in patients with RA.

Methods Peripheral blood was drawn from healthy controls (n=27) and RA patients (n=27). After isolation by Ficoll-Hypaque gradient, PBMCs were stained with antibodies to CD3, CD4, CXCR5, CCR6, CXCR3, CD19, CD20, CD27, and CD38, and examined by flow cytometry. The percentages of CXCR5+CXCR3+CCR6- (Tfh-Th1), CXCR5+CXCR3-CCR6+ (Tfh-Th17) and CXCR5+CXCR3-CCR6- (Tfh/Th2) cells were calculated after gating for CD3, CD4 and CXCR5+. The percentage of CD20-CD38high cells was calculated after gating for CD19+ and CD27+.

Results The frequency of circulating CXCR5+ cells gated for CD4+ T cells was not different among the studied groups. In contrast, in RA patients, the frequency of Tfh-Th1 cells was significantly decreased and the frequency of Tfh-Th17 and Tfh-Th2 cells was significantly increased as compared with controls. Subsequently, the ratio (Tfh-Th17+Tfh-Th2)/Tfh-Th1 was increased in RA patients. That is, RA patients demonstrate a higher proportion of Tfh cells bearing a phenotype associated with B cell helping capacity. At the same time, the frequency of circulating plasmablasts was increased in RA patients as compared with controls. Interestingly, there was a significantly positive correlation between the percentage of circulating plasmablasts and the ratio (Tfh-Th17+Tfh-Th2)/Tfh-Th1, together with a significantly negative correlation between the percentage of circulating plasmablasts and the percentage of circulating Tfh-Th1 cells.

Conclusions RA patients demonstrate altered proportions of circulating Tfh subpopulations, with overrepresentation of subsets bearing a phenotype associated with B cell helping capacity. At the same time, an increased proportion of circulating plasmablasts is apparent in RA patients.

Disclosure of Interest None Declared

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.