Interleukin 35 (IL-35) is likely to contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases, as the Epstein-Barr virus- induced gene protein 3 (EBI3) is the specificity subunit of IL-35. Nevertheless, until recently, no studies have evaluated its role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in humans. The objective of this study was to investigate the serum IL-35 level and the percentage of CD4+EBI3+ T cells in the peripheral blood of patients with SLE and explore the roles of double-positive T cells and IL-35 in the pathogenesis of SLE and the effects of glucocorticoid on these roles.
Fifty-five hospitalized patients with SLE were recruited, and 20 volunteers were enrolled as healthy controls. Serum IL-35 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and the percentage of CD4+EBI3+ T cells was analyzed by flow cytometry.
The serum IL-35 level and the percentage of CD4+EBI3+ T cells were significantly decreased in patients with active SLE compared with healthy controls and patients with inactive SLE. The serum IL-35 level and the percentage of CD4+EBI3+ T cells were negatively correlated with the SLE disease activity index. The percentages of CD4+EBI3+ T cells and serum IL-35 levels in 10 untreated patients with active SLE were increased at days l, 3, and 7 after the treatment with methylprednisolone (0.8 mg-kg−1-d−1) compared with the percentages before the treatment.
These results demonstrate that abnormalities in IL-35 and CD4+EBI3+ T cells may play important roles in the pathogenesis of SLE; the percentage of double-positive T cells and the level of IL-35 are parameters for the evaluation of SLE activity and severity.
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Accepted: October 4, 2013
Received: May 31, 2013
This study was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81200507).
The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest to disclose.
© 2013 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.