High frequencies of activated B cells and T follicular helper cells are correlated with disease activity in patients with new-onset rheumatoid arthritis

Authors

  • J. Wang,

    1. Key Laboratory for Zoonosis Research, Ministry of Education, Department of Central Laboratory, The Second part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author
    • These authors contributed equally to this study.
  • Y. Shan,

    1. Key Laboratory for Zoonosis Research, Ministry of Education, Department of Central Laboratory, The Second part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author
    • These authors contributed equally to this study.
  • Z. Jiang,

    1. Department of Rheumatism, The First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. Feng,

    1. Key Laboratory for Zoonosis Research, Ministry of Education, Department of Central Laboratory, The Second part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • C. Li,

    1. Key Laboratory for Zoonosis Research, Ministry of Education, Department of Central Laboratory, The Second part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • L. Ma,

    1. Key Laboratory for Zoonosis Research, Ministry of Education, Department of Central Laboratory, The Second part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Y. Jiang

    Corresponding author
    • Key Laboratory for Zoonosis Research, Ministry of Education, Department of Central Laboratory, The Second part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence: Y. Jiang, The Second Part of the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun 130031, China.

E-mail: yanfangjiang@hotmail.com

Summary

This study aimed to examine the frequency of different subsets of circulating B and T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in patients with new-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and following standard therapies. Twenty-five RA patients and 15 healthy controls (HC) were recruited for characterizing the frequency of CD27+, immunoglobulin (Ig)D+, CD86+, CD95+, Toll-like receptor (TLR)-9+ B cells and inducible T cell co-stimulator (ICOS) and programmed death 1 (PD-1)-positive Tfh cells and the level of serum interleukin (IL)-21. The potential correlation between the frequency of different subsets of B and Tfh cells and the values of clinical measures in RA patients was analysed. In comparison with HC, significantly higher percentages of circulating IgD+CD27CD19+ naive B, CD86+CD19+ and CD95+CD19+ activated B, CD3+CD4+CXCR5+, CD3+CD4+CXCR5+ICOS+, CD3+CD4+CXCR5+PD-1+ and CD3+CD4+CXCR5+ICOS+PD-1+ Tfh cells but lower IgD+CD27+CD19+ preswitch memory B cells were detected, accompanied by significantly higher levels of serum IL-21 in the RA patients. Furthermore, the percentages of CD95+ B cells were correlated positively with the frequency of PD-1+ Tfh cells, but negatively with ICOS+ Tfh cells. The percentages of CD86+ B cells and ICOS+ Tfh cells were correlated positively with the values of disease activity score 28 (DAS28). Following the drug therapies for 1 month, the percentages of CD86+ B and PD-1+ Tfh cells were reduced significantly in the drug-responding patients. Our data suggest that activated B and Tfh cells may contribute to the pathogenesis of RA and the frequency of activated B and Tfh cells may be used as biomarkers for evaluating the therapeutic responses of individual patients with RA.

Ancillary