Analysis by flow cytometry of calcium influx kinetics in peripheral lymphocytes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis



The transient increase of the cytoplasmic free calcium level in T lymphocytes plays a key role in initiating and maintaining the autoimmune reaction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Kv1.3 and IKCa1 potassium channels are important regulators of the maintenance of calcium influx during lymphocyte activation and present a possible target for selective immunomodulation. We aimed to compare peripheral T lymphocyte calcium influx kinetics upon activation in patients with recently diagnosed and established RA, and to demonstrate the differences in analysis of kinetic flow cytometry data when using two different algorithms. We took peripheral blood samples from nine patients with recently diagnosed and six patients with established RA. We evaluated calcium influx kinetics following activation in CD4, Th1, Th2, and CD8 cells applying an approach based on smoothing of median fluorescence values (FlowJo) and an algorithm based on function fitting (FacsKin). We assessed the sensitivity of the above subsets to specific inhibition of the Kv1.3 and IKCa1 potassium channels. Th2 cells of patients with established RA react slower to activating stimuli, whereas CD8 cells show a faster reaction than in patients with recently diagnosed RA. While initially Th1 cells are less sensitive to the inhibition of Kv1.3 and IKCa1 channels in RA, their sensitivity increases along with the duration of the disease. With the algorithm of function fitting instead of smoothing, more statistically significant differences of potassium channel inhibition between the two RA groups could be demonstrated. The function fitting algorithm applied by FacsKin is suitable to provide a common basis for evaluating and comparing flow cytometry kinetic data. © 2013 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry