As one specialized subset of regulatory T cells (Tregs), follicular regulatory T cells (TFR) could suppress follicular helper T cells (TFH) and B cells in germinal centers to maintain immune homeostasis. The unbalance of TFR and TFH cells could result in abnormal germinal center responses and contribute to pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. However, the role of TFR cells in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) remains unclear. This study revealed a significant increase of CD4+CXCR5+FOXP3+ TFR cells in peripheral blood of SLE patients compared with healthy controls. Meanwhile, the suppression ability of circulating TFR cells was not altered. The ratios of TFR/TFH were increased in SLE patients and the frequency of TFR was positively correlated with auto-antibodies and SLEDAI scores of SLE patients. Our results demonstrated that circulating TFR cells were increased during SLE, which suggested that elevated TFR might be a response to the pathogenesis of SLE to suppress TFH function and may provide novel insight for the pathogenesis of SLE.
International Immunopharmacology – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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