Objective: To analyze the Th1/Th2 balance of peripheral Th cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: The Th1:Th2 ratio was analyzed in 3 groups: SLE without proteinuria (group I; n = 23), SLE with proteinuria (group II; n = 31), and normal controls (group III; n = 24). Group II patients who had undergone renal biopsy were classified into 3 subgroups based on their renal histopathologic findings. The intracellular cytokine detection method with flow cytometry was used to quantitate Th1 and Th2 cells.
Results: There was no difference in the mean Th1:Th2 ratio between SLE patients (groups I and II) and healthy controls (group III). However, the mean value in group II was significantly higher than those in groups I and III. Moreover, within group II, the mean value in SLE patients who had diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis (World Health Organization class IV) was especially high.
Conclusion: Although SLE has been considered to be a disease in which Th2 cells predominate, the Th1/Th2 balance of peripheral Th cells in SLE patients in the present study did not show a predominance of these cells. In contrast, among SLE patients with WHO class IV lupus nephritis, there was a strong predominance of Th1.