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Clin Immunol. 2011 Nov;141(2):197-204. doi: 10.1016/j.clim.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Aug 16.

Disturbed Th1, Th2, Th17 and T(reg) balance in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease accompanied by disturbed T-cell homeostasis. Dysbalance of T-helper-cell (Th) subsets (Th1/Th2/Th17) and regulatory T-cells (T(regs)) is suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of SLE. Recent reports suggest functional deviation of T(regs) in terms of producing IL-17A, a process that may be aberrant in SLE. Therefore, we analyzed these T-cell subsets in SLE to test the hypothesis that aberrant T-cell subset skewing is present in SLE-patients. We investigated simultaneously the intracellular cytokines IFN-γ, IL-4 and IL-17A in CD4(+)T-cells as well as in T(regs). Skewing of T-cell subsets towards Th17 cells was observed in SLE-patients. Although the proportion of T(regs) was similar between SLE-patients and healthy controls, the ability of T(regs) to express IFN-γ and IL17A was impaired in SLE-patients. Even in quiescent SLE-patients T-cell homeostasis is aberrant in terms of skewing towards IL-17 producing T-cells.

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