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Circulation. 2004 Jun 8;109(22):2744-8. Epub 2004 May 24.

CD4+CD28- T lymphocytes contribute to early atherosclerotic damage in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Author information

1
Center for the Study of Rheumatic Diseases, Section of Internal Medicine and Oncological Sciences, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Perugia, Policlinico di Monteluce, I-06122 Perugia, Italy. gerlir@unipg.it

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Peripheral blood expansion of an unusual CD4+ T-cell subset lacking surface CD28 has been suggested to predispose rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients to develop more aggressive disease. However, the potential association between CD4+CD28null T cells and early atherosclerotic changes in RA has never been investigated.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

The number of circulating CD4+CD28null cells was evaluated in 87 RA and 33 control subjects who also underwent evaluation of carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and endothelial function via flow-mediated vasodilation (FMV). Patients had higher IMT and lower FMV compared with control subjects. The frequency of CD4+CD28null cells was significantly higher in patients than in control subjects. Twenty patients with persistent expansion of circulating CD4+CD28null cells had more marked increase of carotid artery IMT and stronger decrease of brachial artery FMV. Blockade of tumor necrosis factor-alpha led to a partial reappearance of the CD28 molecule on the CD4+ cell surface.

CONCLUSIONS:

Circulating CD4+CD28(null) lymphocytes are increased in RA. Patients with persistent CD4+CD28null cell expansion show preclinical atherosclerotic changes, including arterial endothelial dysfunction and carotid artery wall thickening, more significantly than patients without expansion. These findings suggest a contribution of this cell subset in atheroma development in RA. Moreover, the demonstration that tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockade is able to reverse, at least in part, the CD28 deficiency on the CD4+ cell surface may be of interest for possible innovative therapeutic strategies in cardiovascular diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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