Objective: This study examines polyfunctional T-cells in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) synovial tissue and their associations with clinical disease and implications for therapy.
Methods: PsA synovial tissue was enzymatically/mechanically digested to generate synovial tissue single cell suspensions. Frequencies of polyfunctional CD4, CD8, T-helper 1 (Th1), Th17 and exTh17 cells, using CD161 as a marker of Th17 plasticity, were determined by flow cytometry in matched PsA synovial tissue and peripheral blood. Synovial T-cell polyfunctionality was assessed in relation to Disease Activity in PSoriatic Arthritis (DAPSA) and in synovial cell suspensions cultured with a current mode of treatment, phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor.
Results: PsA synovial tissue infiltrating CD4+ T-cells expressed higher levels of interleukin (IL)-17A, interferon gamma (IFN-γ), GM-CSF and CD161, with parallel enrichment of Th1, Th17 and exTh17 T-helper subsets (all p<0.05). Interestingly, a significant proportion of synovial T-cell subsets were triple-positive for GM-CSF, tumour necrosis factor (-TNF), -IL-17 or IFN-γ compared with matched blood (all p<0.05). Importantly, frequencies of polyfunctional T-cells correlated with DAPSA: Th1-GM-CSF+/TNF+/IFN-γ+ (r=0.7, p<0.01), Th17-GM-CSF+/TNF+/IL-17+ (r=0.6, p<0.057) and exTh17-GM-CSF+/TNF+/IFN-γ+ (r=0.7, p=0.0096), with no associations observed for single cytokine-producing T-cells. Following ex vivo culture of PsA synovial tissue cell suspensions, polyfunctional GM-CSF+TNFα+IL-17A+ or/IFN-γ+-producing T-cells (p<0.05), but not single cytokine-producing T-cells, were inhibited with a PDE4 inhibitor.
Conclusion: These data demonstrate enrichment of polyfunctional T-cells in PsA synovial tissue which were strongly associated with DAPSA and ex vivo therapeutic response.
Keywords: polyfunctional t-cells; psoriatic arthritis; synovial tissue.
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