B cell activation in clinically quiescent systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is related to immunoglobulin levels, but not to levels of anti-dsDNA, nor to concurrent T cell activation

Clin Exp Immunol. 1993 Jul;93(1):39-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1993.tb06494.x.


In clinically quiescent SLE hypergammaglobulinaemia, presence of autoantibodies, and increased soluble IL-2 receptors (sIL-2R) have been reported, suggesting persistent B as well as T cell activation. In contrast, the primary immune response to test antigens is markedly decreased. To analyse these phenomena at a cellular level, we undertook a cross-sectional study on 13 non-active SLE patients and 15 controls. We determined the composition of lymphocyte subsets with special attention to activation markers (CD25, HLA-DR, CD38) and the presence of naive T cells (CD45RO-), and related those findings to serological parameters. In non-active SLE patients the expression of activation markers on B cells and T cells was higher than in normal controls (P < or = 0.02), but was not interrelated. Percentages of activated B cells in SLE were related to levels of total IgG (P < 0.02) and IgM (P < 0.02) but not to anti-dsDNA, suggesting a disordered immune system also in clinically quiescent SLE. Numbers of CD4+ cells (P < 0.001) and CD4+CD45RO- cells (P < 0.05) were decreased. The latter finding might explain the anergy to primary test antigens in clinically quiescent SLE.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / analysis*
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, CD
  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulins