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Eur Cytokine Netw. 2004 Jul-Sep;15(3):222-30.

Relationship between peripheral blood dendritic cells and cytokines involved in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Department of Dermatology and Venerology, Medical University of Łódź, ul. Krzemieniecka 5, 94-017 Łódź, Poland.


Recent studies indicate that dendritic cells (DC) and several cytokines are implicated in the induction of autoimmune diseases. In this study we investigated the relationship between the total number of DC (tDC), and their plasmacytoid (pDC) and myeloid (mDC) subpopulations, with serum concentrations of interferons (IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma) and selected cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-4, IL-6), in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and healthy persons. Subpopulations of DC were determined by the following antigen expression profiles: BDCA-1+\CD11c+\HLA-DR+ (for mDC) and BDCA-2 +\CD123+\HLA-DR+ (for pDC), using flow cytometry. Serum levels of interferons and cytokines were assessed by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The study was performed in 36 SLE patients and 19 healthy volunteers. The mean number of tDC was lower in SLE patients (13.9 +/- 6.4\microL) than in healthy persons (24.1 +/- 12.6\microL) (P < 0.001). The number of pDC was also significantly lower in SLE (6.6 +/- 3.6\microL) than in the control group (12.0 +/- 8.3\microL) (P < 0.02). Moreover, the mean pDC count was lower in active than in inactive disease (5.5 +/- 3.6\microL vs 7.6 +/- 3.4\microL; P < 0.04). The mean serum levels of IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma were significantly higher in SLE patients (63.8 pg\mL and 6.6 pg\mL, respectively) than in the control group (2.7 pg\mL and 0.5 pg\mL, respectively) (P < 0.008 and P < 0.001, respectively). Serum levels of TNF-alpha and IL-6 were also higher in SLE patients (mean 7.3 pg\mL and 18.4 pg\mL, respectively) than in healthy controls (4.2 pg\mL and 0.5 pg\mL, respectively) (P < 0.02 and P < 0.001, respectively). The mean serum IL-4 concentrations were similar in SLE and healthy persons (0.2 pg\mL and 0.31 pg\mL, respectively; P -/+ 0.119). A negative correlation was found between pDC number and the serum level of IFN-alpha (rho -/+ -- 0.386, P -/+ 0.02) and between mDC and IFN-gamma (rho -/+ -- 0.377, P -/+ 0.024). In conclusion, the correlation between peripheral blood DC subsets and serum levels of IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma suggests a possible relationship between these cytokines in the pathogenesis of SLE.

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