Increased lymphocyte death by neglect-apoptosis is associated with lymphopenia and autoantibodies in lupus patients presenting with neuropsychiatric manifestations

J Neurol. 2002 Aug;249(8):1048-54. doi: 10.1007/s00415-002-0781-6.


To evaluate lymphocyte death by neglect-apoptosis features in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients presenting with neuropsychiatric (NPSLE) involvement we studied 40 SLE patients with active disease, 20 with and 20 without neuropsychiatric manifestations, and 20 control individuals. Lymphocyte apoptosis was evaluated by means of DNA staining using flow cytometry, immediately after cell isolation and after incubation with culture medium or autologous serum. Compared with controls, NPSLE and non-NPSLE patients exhibited increased rates of neglect-apoptosis immediately after cell isolation. Only NPSLE patients exhibited an increased neglect-apoptosis rate after incubation with culture medium; however, the neglect-apoptosis rate was associated with lymphopenia in both series of patients. After lymphocyte incubation with autologous serum, only NPSLE patients exhibited a significant negative correlation between the neglect-apoptosis rate and the number of peripheral lymphocytes. The incubation of lymphocytes with autologous serum containing antiphospholipid or anti-SSA/Ro antibodies significantly increased the neglect-apoptosis in NPSLE when compared with non-NPSLE patients with a similar autoantibody profile. In conclusion, NPSLE and non-NPSLE patients shared several abnormalities in terms of lymphocyte neglect-apoptosis. Peculiar findings were observed in NPSLE patients particularly after incubation with autologous serum, such as the fact that the increased lymphocyte death by neglect-apoptosis was associated with lymphopenia and with the presence of antiphospholipid and anti-SSA/Ro antibodies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / blood
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / immunology
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / blood
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes / blood
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Lymphopenia / blood
  • Middle Aged


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • SS-A antibodies