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Effects of conventional immunosuppressive treatment on CD244+(CD28null) and FOXP3+T cells in the inflamed muscle of patients with polymyositis and dermatomyositis

Journal article
Authors Jayesh M. Pandya
I. Loell
M. S. Hossain
M. Zong
H. Alexanderson
Sukanya Raghavan
I. E. Lundberg
V. Malmstrom
Published in Arthritis Research & Therapy
Volume 18
ISSN 1478-6354
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Language en
Keywords T-lymphocyte, Myositis, Treg cells, Glucocorticoids, Inflammation, cd4(+)cd28(null) t-cells, monoclonal-antibody analysis, inclusion-body, myositis, rheumatoid-arthritis, immune-system, inflammatory myopathies, replicative senescence, autoimmune-disease, mononuclear-cells, expression, Rheumatology
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


Background: T-cell infiltrates may persist in muscle tissue of polymyositis (PM) and dermatomyositis (DM) patients despite aggressive immunosuppressive treatment. Here, we investigated to what extent persistent T cells in affected muscle were FOXP3+, a marker for regulatory T cells (Tregs), or CD244+, a marker for CD28null T cells, and whether their presence correlated to clinical outcome. The sensitivity of CD28null T cells towards glucocorticoid and Treg-mediated immunosuppression was also investigated. Methods: Muscle biopsies from 16 newly diagnosed or untreated patients with PM/DM were investigated by immunohistochemistry for expression of CD3, FOXP3 and CD244 before and after treatment with glucocorticoids and immunosuppressive agents. For clinical evaluation, serum levels of creatine kinase, muscle performance (FI and MMT8), disease activity (MITAX) and disability (HAQ) were measured. In vitro suppressive effects of glucocorticoids and Tregs on T-cell activation were measured by CD69 upregulation. Results: Before treatment, CD244+ cells were present at higher proportions compared to FOXP3+ cells in the inflamed muscle. Following treatment, FOXP3+ cell numbers decreased while CD244+ cells persisted. Patients with impaired muscle function (< 75 % FI) post-treatment had higher levels of CD244+ cells in the follow-up biopsy compared to those with FI > 75 %. MITAX and HAQ correlated with the number of CD244+ cells post-treatment. CD4+CD28null T cells displayed lower sensitivity towards both glucocorticoid and Treg-mediated immunosuppression in vitro compared to their CD28+ counterparts. Conclusions: Poor outcome in patients with myositis following immunosuppressive therapy was linked to persistence of CD244+ (CD28null) T cells in muscle tissue, suggesting their resistance against immunosuppression. A relative loss of regulatory T cells could also contribute to poor clinical outcome given their recently ascribed role in muscle tissue regeneration.

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