Anti-dsDNA production coincides with concurrent B and T cell activation during development of active disease in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Clin Exp Immunol. 1996 Jun;104(3):446-53. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.1996.44754.x.


The objective was to serially analyse T and B cell activation in relation to autoantibody production during the development of relapses in SLE. In a prospective study we serially analysed, by flow cytometry, T cell activation in relation to B cell activation and anti-dsDNA production in quiescent SLE and during the development of a clinical relapse. In addition, we related changes in T and B cell activation to changes in levels of anti-dsDNA and total IgG. During periods with clinically quiescent disease, the expression of activation markers on T cells (IL-2R and HLA-DR) and B cells (CD38) was persistently higher in SLE than in healthy controls (P < 0.001). Percentages of CD20+ CD38+ B cells were related to levels of total IgG (P < 0.02), but not to levels of anti-dsDNA. Development of disease activity was paralleled by an increase in the percentages of CD4+ T cells (P < 0.005) and CD20+ CD38+ B cells (P < 0.001), which were interrelated. Increases in B cell activation were related to increases in levels of anti-dsDNA (P < 0.005), but not to changes in total IgG levels. B cells expressing high levels of CD38 spontaneously produced IgG class anti-dsDNA in vitro. Persistence of activated B cells during periods with clinically quiescent disease in SLE seems to underly hypergammaglobulinaemia but not anti-dsDNA production. Prior to clinical disease activity, further activation of T and B cells occurs, which is paralleled by rises of anti-dsDNA but not of total IgG. This suggests that the production of anti-dsDNA is a T cell-dependent antigen-driven process, which is independent of the polyclonal activation of the immune system inherent to the disease.

MeSH terms

  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / analysis*
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, CD20 / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation / immunology
  • B-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HLA-DR Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Middle Aged
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases / immunology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, CD20
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interleukin-2
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • N-Glycosyl Hydrolases
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase
  • CD38 protein, human
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1