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Clin Exp Immunol. 2005 May;140(2):360-7.

CD4+ CD25+ T cells with the phenotypic and functional characteristics of regulatory T cells are enriched in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Turku Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Turku, Finland.


CD4(+) CD25(+) regulatory T (T(reg)) cells play a critical role in the maintenance of peripheral tolerance and the prevention of autoimmunity. In the present study, we have explored the characteristics of CD4(+) CD25(+) T(reg) cells in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The frequency and phenotype of CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells in paired samples of synovial fluid (SF) and peripheral blood (PB) from patients with RA and PB from normal controls were analysed. An increased frequency of CD4+ cells T cells expressing CD25 was detected in SF compared to PB from patients with RA. No significant difference was observed in the numbers of CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells in PB from patients and controls. SF CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells expressed high levels of CTLA-4 (both surface and intracellular), GITR and OX40, as well as Foxp3 transcripts. Functionally, SF CD4(+) CD25(+) T cells were impaired in their proliferative responses and could suppress the proliferation of their CD4(+) CD25(-) counterparts. In conclusion, these data demonstrate that CD4(+) CD25(+) T(reg) cells, with the potential to regulate the function of effector T cells and antigen-presenting cells, accumulate in the synovium of patients with RA.

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