Th1/Th2 balance of peripheral T helper cells in systemic lupus erythematosus

Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Aug;42(8):1644-8. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(199908)42:8<1644::AID-ANR12>3.0.CO;2-L.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-10 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-4 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-6 / biosynthesis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / pathology*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th1 Cells / pathology*
  • Th2 Cells / pathology*


  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-4
  • Interferon-gamma