Impairment of CD8+ T suppressor cell function in patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus

Gilberto Filaci, Sabrina Bacilieri, Marco Fravega, Monia Monetti, Paola Contini, Massimo Ghio, Maurizio Setti, Francesco Puppo, Francesco Indiveri

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Alteration of T cell suppression function has been recognized in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Recently, CD8+ T suppressor lymphocytes (CD8+ Ts) have been generated in vitro by incubating purified CD8+ T cells with IL-2 and GM-CSF. Using this method, we generated CD8+ Ts from patients affected by SLE. No major differences were found in the CD8+ Ts phenotype between SLE patients and healthy subjects. CD8+ Ts from SLE patients with active disease did not inhibit the anti-CD3 mAb-induced proliferation of autologous PBMC, whereas CD8+ Ts from SLE patients in remission exerted an inhibitory activity comparable to normal subjects. The inhibitory effect of CD8+ Ts cells was neither mediated by cytotoxic activity nor by apoptosis induction. Two cytokines, IFN-γ and IL-6, were found to be responsible for the function of CD8+ Ts. In fact, counteraction of CD8+ Ts suppression activity was obtained by blocking IFN-γ with a specific Ab or by inhibiting CD8+ Ts-mediated IL-6 secretion by an antisense oligonucleotide. Interestingly, CD8+ Ts from SLE patients showed a peculiar cytokine pattern characterized by an impaired secretion of IL-6 and an increased secretion of IL-12. Thus, it appears that an altered balance between inhibitory (IL-6) and stimulatory (IL-12) cytokines might be responsible for the functional impairment of CD8+ Ts in SLE patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6452-6457
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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