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J Rheumatol. 2009 Jun;36(6):1217-25. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.081079. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

Quantitative abnormalities of peripheral blood distinct T, B, and natural killer cell subsets and clinical findings in obstetric antiphospholipid syndrome.

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  • 1Reproductive Immunology Group, Immunology Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Dr. Esquerdo 46, 28007, Madrid, Spain.



Few studies have assessed immunophenotypic abnormalities on lymphocyte subsets in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). We performed an extended immunological study to define alterations of distinct T, B, and natural killer (NK) cell subsets in obstetric patients with APS and their relationship with APS-associated complications.



36 women with APS [Sydney criteria, Group A1 without thrombosis (n=26), Group A2 with thrombosis (n=10)]; and 36 age matched women with recurrent abortion without antiphospholipid antibodies (disease controls; Group B), 36 healthy parous women (healthy controls; Group C), and 36 healthy nonparous women (healthy controls; Group D). Thrombotic events occurred after history of abortions in all A2 women. Three-color whole-blood flow cytometry was used to characterize the distinct immunophenotypes.


A1 patients had significantly higher percentages of CD4+CD45RA-CCR7+ central memory cells (A1 vs D), higher percentages of activated CD4+CD25+ T cells (A1 vs D), and lower percentages and absolute counts of CD4+CD45RA-CCR7- effector memory cells (A1 vs D). Group A2 patients had higher percentages and absolute numbers of CD19+CD27-IgD+ naive B cells (A2 vs A1 vs all controls), lower percentages and absolute numbers of CD3-CD56+CD16+ NK cells (A2 vs all controls), and higher percentages of activated CD4+DR+ (A2 vs all controls), CD8+DR+ (A2 vs A1 vs C vs D), CD4+CD38+DR+ (A2 vs D), and CD4+CD25+DR+ T cells (A2 vs all controls). Increased percentages of CD8+DR+ T cells [relative risk (RR) 2.43, 95% CI 1.09-5.44, p=0.02] and of naive B cells (RR 3.05, 95% CI 1.30-7.11, p=0.009) were associated with development of thrombosis.


In obstetric patients with APS we documented significant changes in T, B, and NK cell homeostasis. Increased levels of CD8+DR+ and CD19+CD27-IgD+ cells might identify obstetric patients with APS at risk of having thrombosis.

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