High Dimensional Analyses of Circulating Immune Cells in Psoriatic Arthritis Detects Elevated Phosphorylated STAT3

Front Immunol. 2022 Jan 11:12:758418. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.758418. eCollection 2021.


Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory arthritis, affecting up to 40% of patients with psoriasis. Constitutive expression by CD4+ T cells of an active form of STAT3, a signal transducer and transcription factor, has been shown to induce many of the major features of PsA in an animal model. We used high dimensional mass cytometry (CyTOF) to probe ex-vivo levels of phosphorylated STAT3 (pSTAT3) in circulating immune cell subpopulations from PsA patients during active and inactive states. We evaluated the frequency of 16 immune cell populations and the levels of the activated forms of STAT3 (pSTAT3) and, for comparison, STAT1 (pSTAT1) and Src (pSrc) in whole blood fixed shortly after collection. In addition to PsA patients, we studied active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Increased levels of pSTAT3 were found in all the CD4+ T cell subsets analyzed, specifically, Th1, Th2, Th17, T follicular helper (Tfh) and T regulatory (Treg) as well as in CD14+CD16- (classical) monocytes from active PsA patients compared to inactive patients. After correcting for body mass index (BMI), smoking and conventional disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (c-DMARDs), levels of pSTAT3 levels remained increased in Th1 and Tfh CD4+ T cells, and in CD14+CD16- monocytes from active patients compared to inactive patients. No differences between the patient groups were observed for pSTAT1 or pSrc. No differences were found between the active PsA and active RA groups after correction for multiple testing. During active PsA, circulating Th1 and Tfh CD4+ T cells, and CD14+CD16- monocytes expressing high levels of pSTAT3 may play a role in PsA pathophysiology, perhaps by migration to inflamed sites.

Keywords: CD4+ T cells; STAT3; monocytes; psoriatic arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Psoriatic / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Phosphorylation / immunology*
  • Receptors, IgG / immunology
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, IgG
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human