T cell abnormalities in systemic lupus erythematosus

Autoimmunity. 2005 Aug;38(5):339-46. doi: 10.1080/08916930500123983.


Because of the consensus that T cells play a central role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we explored the molecular basis of the defective function of SLE T cells for expression of signal transduction molecules, as well as surface structures such as adhesion molecules, by extensively testing peripheral blood T cells from SLE patients. Upregulated expression and function of adhesion molecules was observed in T cells from patients with active SLE who had specific clinical manifestations such as vasculitis, epithelitis and arthritis, but proximal signal transduction was defective. Comprehensive analysis to identify the molecules responsible for the defects showed the expression of the TCR zeta chain was attenuated, or absent in more than half of SLE patients. Moreover, the aberrant transcripts of the TCR zeta chain, including spliced variants lacking exon 7 and with a short 3' UTR, were detected in SLE T cells. Although attenuated expression of the TCR zeta chain is also observed in patients with cancers, infections and other autoimmune diseases, sustained attenuation of TCR zeta expression and aberrant transcripts are only observed in SLE. In this review we discuss the unique features of the TCR zeta defects in SLE.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / genetics
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*