Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1903–1911 | Cite as

Hydroxychloroquine decreases the upregulated frequencies of Tregs in patients with oral lichen planus

  • Yanan Zhu
  • Jingjing Li
  • Yang Bai
  • Xiang Wang
  • Ning Duan
  • Hongliu Jiang
  • Tingting WangEmail author
  • Wenmei WangEmail author
Original Article



Regulatory T cells (Tregs) have emerged as important mediators in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. We investigated the possible involvement of Tregs in oral lichen planus (OLP) and the influence of clinical therapy (hydroxychloroquine and prednisone) on the frequencies of Tregs in OLP patients.

Materials and methods

One hundred fifty patients diagnosed with OLP were the study cohort. Levels of Tregs in blood and tissues were detected using flow cytometry and immunostaining, respectively. Cytokine production was assessed using a proteome profiler array and determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. mRNA expression of transcription factors was detected by real-time quantitative PCR. Hydroxychloroquine or prednisone was used to treat patients randomly. The frequency of Tregs was detected before treatment and 2 weeks after treatment.


Compared with healthy volunteers, OLP patients had a higher proportion of Tregs in serum and tissues before treatment (P < 0.001). Serum concentrations of interleukin (IL)-8, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, and IL-10 were significantly higher in patients than those in healthy controls. mRNA expression of Treg-related genes, including TGF-β, IL-10, signal transducer and activator of transcription 6, and GATA binding protein 3, were upregulated significantly in OLP patients. The frequency of Tregs was downregulated after hydroxychloroquine treatment.


These results suggest that Tregs may contribute to the immunopathogenesis of OLP and may provide a new therapeutic target for OLP treatment.

Clinical relevance

T cell-mediated immune dysfunction may have a crucial role in OLP development. However, T helper 1 (Th1)/Th2 imbalance does not appear to be sufficient to understand the pathogenesis of OLP. This is the first study to show that Tregs are involved in the immunopathogenesis of OLP.


Tregs Oral lichen planus Cytokine Hydroxychloroquine Prednisone 



This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (numbers 81070839 and 81101552), Key Project supported by the Medical Science and Technology Development Foundation, Nanjing Department of Health (ZKX10030), Jiangsu Province’s Outstanding Medical Academic Leader program (LJ201110), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK2011571), and Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (20100091120002).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanan Zhu
    • 1
  • Jingjing Li
    • 2
  • Yang Bai
    • 2
  • Xiang Wang
    • 2
  • Ning Duan
    • 2
  • Hongliu Jiang
    • 2
  • Tingting Wang
    • 3
    Email author
  • Wenmei Wang
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Endodontic Department, Institute and Hospital of StomatologyNanjing University Medical SchoolNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Oral Medicine, Institute and Hospital of StomatologyNanjing University Medical SchoolNanjingChina
  3. 3.Immunology LaboratoryMedical School of Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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