Mass cytometry identifies a distinct monocyte cytokine signature shared by clinically heterogeneous pediatric SLE patients

J Autoimmun. 2017 Apr 4;S0896-8411(16)30412-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2017.03.010. Online ahead of print.


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with heightened disease severity in children. The incomplete understanding of the precise cellular and molecular events that drive disease activity pose a significant hurdle to the development of targeted therapeutic agents. Here, we performed single-cell phenotypic and functional characterization of pediatric SLE patients and healthy controls blood via mass cytometry. We identified a distinct CD14hi monocyte cytokine signature, with increased levels of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP1), macrophage inflammatory protein-1β (Mip1β), and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA). This signature was shared by every clinically heterogeneous patient, and reproduced in healthy donors' blood upon ex-vivo exposure to plasma from clinically active patients only. This SLE-plasma induced signature was abrogated by JAK1/JAK2 selective inhibition. This study demonstrates the utility of mass cytometry to evaluate immune dysregulation in pediatric autoimmunity, by identification of a multi-parametric immune signature that can be further dissected to delineate the events that drive disease pathogenesis.

Keywords: Cytokines; JAK inhibition; MCP1; Mass cytometry; Monocytes; Pediatric systemic lupus erythematosus; Plasma circulating factors; Ruxolitinib; Type I interferons.