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Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2014 Sep;26(5):493-501. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000082.

The role of T cells in systemic lupus erythematosus: an update.

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Division of Rheumatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA *Christine Konya and Ziv Paz contributed equally to the writing of this article.



To describe our current understanding of the role of T cells in the pathophysiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).


Over the last few years, the dominant role of T cells in autoimmunity and SLE was established. Genome-wide-association studies led to the discovery of multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with SLE. Most of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms fall within the noncoding DNA regions of immune response-related genes and few seem to contribute to the observed abnormal T cell function. The field of epigenetics research developed rapidly and provided us with new insights into the observed generalized hypomethylation in SLE T cells, the abnormal histone modifications and the role of RNA interference. Old observations, such as the decreased interleukin-2 production, are better understood with our evolved knowledge of many signal transduction pathways and the way they converge and regulate the transcription of different genes in T cells. Finally, we are now able to identify subpopulations of T cells, such as Th17 and T regulatory cells, and to define their role in SLE.


T cells are key players in SLE, and over the last few years our understanding of their activation, signal transduction and gene regulation has evolved significantly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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