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J Immunol. 2002 Jul 15;169(2):1092-101.

Persistent mitochondrial hyperpolarization, increased reactive oxygen intermediate production, and cytoplasmic alkalinization characterize altered IL-10 signaling in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, State University of New York, College of Medicine, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


Abnormal death signaling in lymphocytes of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients has been associated with elevation of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (Delta psi(m)) and increased production of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI). The resultant ATP depletion sensitizes T cells for necrosis that may significantly contribute to inflammation in patients with SLE. In the present study, the role of mitochondrial signal processing in T cell activation was investigated. CD3/CD28 costimulation of PBL elicited transient mitochondrial hyperpolarization and intracellular pH (pH(i)) elevation, followed by increased ROI production. Baseline Delta psi(m), ROI production, and pH(i) were elevated, while T cell activation-induced changes were blunted in 15 patients with SLE in comparison with 10 healthy donors and 10 rheumatoid arthritis patients. Similar to CD3/CD28 costimulation, treatment of control PBL with IL-3, IL-10, TGF-beta(1), and IFN-gamma led to transient Delta psi(m) elevation. IL-10 had diametrically opposing effects on mitochondrial signaling in lupus and control donors. Unlike healthy or rheumatoid arthritis PBL, cells of lupus patients were resistant to IL-10-induced mitochondrial hyperpolarization. By contrast, IL-10 enhanced ROI production and cell death in lupus PBL without affecting ROI levels and survival of control PBL. Ab-mediated IL-10 blockade or stimulation with antagonistic lymphokine IL-12 normalized baseline and CD3/CD28-induced changes in ROI production and pH(i) with no impact on Delta psi(m) of lupus PBL. The results suggest that mitochondrial hyperpolarization, increased ROI production, and cytoplasmic alkalinization play crucial roles in altered IL-10 responsiveness in SLE.

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