A shift in the balance between Th17-cells and regulatory T-cells (Treg) is an important feature of systemic autoimmune diseases (SAID), and may also contribute to their development. Hereby, we assessed the distribution of peripheral Th17 and Treg-cells in patients with undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD), the forerunner of SAIDs and followed these parameters during the development towards definitive SAIDs. Fifty-one UCTD patients were investigated and followed-up for 3years. Flow cytometry was used to identify and follow three cell-populations: Th17-cells (CD4+IL-17+ T-cells), natural regulatory T-cells (CD4+CD25brightFoxP3+; nTregs) and IL-10 producing Type-1 regulatory T-cells (CD4+IL-10+ T-cells; Tr1). Altogether 37.3% of these patients progressed into SAIDs. Th17-cells were increased in UCTD vs. controls, which further increased in those, whom developed SAIDs eventually. The Th17/nTreg ratio gradually increased from controls through UCTD patients, reaching the highest values in SAID-progressed patients. Regarding the Th17/Tr1 ratios, a similar tendency was observed moreover Th17/Tr1 could distinguish between UCTD patients with, or without subsequent SAID progression in a very early UCTD stage. Various immunoserological markers showed association with Th17 and Th17/nTreg at baseline, indicating the consecutive development of a distinct SAID. The derailed Th17/Treg balance may contribute to disease progression therefore could function as a prognostic marker.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy