Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 315–323 | Cite as

Assay of T- and NK-cell subsets and the expression of NKG2A and NKG2D in patients with new-onset systemic lupus erythematosus

  • Wen-Xian Li
  • Hai-Feng Pan
  • Jian-Li Hu
  • Chang-Zhong Wang
  • Ning Zhang
  • Jing Li
  • Xiang-Pei Li
  • Jian-Hua Xu
  • Dong-Qing Ye
Brief Report


This study aims to explore the percentage of T-cell and NK-cell subsets, the expression of NKG2A and NKG2D on CD3+ T cells and CD3−CD56+ NK cells on the total lymphocytes in new-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, and explore clinical significance of these cell subsets. Thirty-two SLE patients and 32 normal controls were enrolled. Flow cytometry was used to count T- and NK-cell subsets and to detect the expression of NKG2A and NKG2D on CD3+ T cells and CD3−CD56+ NK cells in patients with new-onset SLE. Results show that CD4+ T (t = 2.04, P < 0.05), CD4+/CD8+ T cell (t = 2.66, P < 0.05), CD4+ CD25+ T (t = 2.48, P < 0.05), CD3+CD56+ natural killer T (NKT) (t = 40.05, P < 0.01), CD3−CD56+CD16+ NK-cell subsets (t = 3.50, P < 0.01) were significantly decreased, CD8+ T-cell subsets was significantly increased in patients with new-onset SLE (t = 3.80, P < 0.01), as compared with healthy controls. CD8+ T-cell subset was significantly increased in patients with vasculitis (t = 2.47, P < 0.05), and CD3−CD56+CD16+ NK was increased in patients with arthritis (t = 3.21, P < 0.01). However, no statistically significant correlation was found among different PBMC subsets and SLEDAI activity scores. Patients with SLE had a lower expression of NKG2A (U = 2.42, P < 0.05) as well as NKG2A/NKG2D ratio (t = 2.61, P < 0.05) and a higher expression of NKG2D (t = 2.21, P < 0.05) on CD3+ T cells, compared with normal controls. However, they had a higher expression of NKG2A (t = 2.59, P < 0.05) as well as NKG2A/NKG2D ratio (t = 49.45, P < 0.01) and a lower expression of NKG2D (t = 3.05, P < 0.01) on CD3−CD56+ NK cells. Taken together, the findings indicate the decreased CD4+ T-cell, CD4+/CD8+ T-cell, CD4+CD25+ T-cell, CD3+CD56+ NKT-, and CD3−CD56+CD16+ NK-cell subsets, increased CD8+ T-cell subsets as well as the abnormal expression of NKG2A and NKG2D on CD3+ T and CD3−CD56 + NK cells may play a role in the etiology of SLE.


NK-cell subset NKG2A NKG2D Systemic lupus erythematosus T-cell subset 



This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30771848) and the key program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (30830089).




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Copyright information

© Clinical Rheumatology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wen-Xian Li
    • 1
  • Hai-Feng Pan
    • 1
  • Jian-Li Hu
    • 1
  • Chang-Zhong Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ning Zhang
    • 1
  • Jing Li
    • 1
  • Xiang-Pei Li
    • 3
  • Jian-Hua Xu
    • 4
  • Dong-Qing Ye
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public HealthAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of ImmunologyAnhui University of Traditional Chinese MedicineHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of RheumatologyAnhui Provincial HospitalHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Rheumatology, First Affiliated HospitalAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiPeople’s Republic of China

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