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Keywords:

  • TGF-β;
  • type 3 helper T cells;
  • IgA anti-cardiolipin antibodies;
  • childhood;
  • Henoch–Schönlein purpura

Henoch–Schönlein purpura (HSP) is a small vessel vasculitis characterized by increased serum IgA and IgA-dominant immune complex deposition in lesions. The involvement of IgA implies a probable role for TGF-β, a major factor in IgA production, in the pathogenesis of HSP. Among IgA antibodies, serum IgA anti-cardiolipin antibodies (aCL) have been found in many diseases, including vasculitis. In addition to the clinical presentations and laboratory parameters, we further investigated the roles of IgA aCL and TGF-β in childhood HSP. Twenty-six Chinese children with the diagnosis of HSP were enrolled. Blood samples from these patients were collected at both acute and convalescent stages. Intracellular staining of lymphocytes was performed to enumerate type 1 (interferon-gamma-secreting), type 2 (IL-4-secreting), and type 3 (TGF-β-secreting) helper T cells. Serum levels of TGF-β were detected by ELISA. Serum IgA aCL of 21 of 26 patients at the acute stage, 11 of them at the convalescent stage, were measured by ELISA. The data showed that IgA aCL serum levels were significantly elevated in patients compared with healthy controls (P < 0·001), and those patients at the convalescent stage (P < 0·001). In addition, TGF-β-secreting T cells were significantly elevated during the acute stage, and decreased at the convalescent stage. Although more studies are needed, the high prevalence of IgA aCL and increased TGF-β-secreting T cells in children with acute HSP revealed some points which should permit a better understanding of the pathogenesis of HSP.