Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 29, Issue 11, pp 1251–1258 | Cite as

The imbalance between regulatory and IL-17-secreting CD4+ T cells in lupus patients

Original Article


It has been well recognized that a deficit of numbers and function of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ cells (Treg) is attributed to the development of some autoimmune diseases; however, there are controversial data regarding the suppressive effect of Treg cells on the T cell response in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Additionally, IL-17-producing cells (Th17) have been recently emerged as a new pathogenic cell, but their role in lupus remains unclear. In this study, we studied the connection between Treg and Th17 cells in lupus patients. We observed that, while Treg or Th17 cells alone were not correlated to SLE development, the ratio of Treg to Th17 cells in active SLE patients is significantly lower than that in inactive SLE patients and healthy controls, and we also found corticosteroid treatment increased the ratio of Treg to Th17 cells in active SLE patients. Moreover, this ratio is inversely correlated with the severity of active SLE. The present study indicates that active SLE appears to exist as an imbalance between Treg and Th17 cells. Correction of this Treg/Th17 imbalance may have therapeutic impact for patients with SLE.


Foxp3 Lupus Regulatory T cells Th17 cells 



This study was supported by grants from Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (2090918, J.L.M.), the Health Bureau of Zhejiang Province (2007A162, J.L.M.), Hangzhou Science and Technology Bureau (20080333Q28, J.L.M.), and the fund of Hangzhou health administration (2006Z006, 2007B0047, J.L.M.), from James H. Zumberge Faculty Research and Innovation Fund, Arthritis Foundation, Outstanding Young Scientist Investigator Award from National Nature Science Foundation of China (30728007), and the American College of Rheumatology Research and Education’s Within Our Reach: Finding a Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis campaign and Shanghai Pudong New Area Science and Technology Bureau (PKJ2009-Y41, S.G.Z).




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Copyright information

© Clinical Rheumatology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and NephrologyZhejiang Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine HospitalHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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