Objective: To determine the possible role of a novel integrin, alphaEbeta7, in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Expression of alphaEbeta7 was examined on peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from normal subjects (n = 25) and patients with SLE (n = 31), primary Sjogren's syndrome (n = 7), or polymyositis/dermatomyositis (n = 8) by cytofluorometry and/or immunoprecipitation. Adhesion of alphaEbeta7+ T cells to HSG epithelial cells was investigated using a confocal image analyzer.
Results: After phytohemagglutinin stimulation, expression of alphaEbeta7 on PBL, especially on CD8+ T cells, was significantly higher in SLE patients than in normal subjects (P<0.01). Elevated alphaEbeta7 expression was associated with the presence of oral ulcers or serositis (P<0.05). Activated SLE T cells with enhanced alphaEbeta7 expression strongly adhered to HSG; this adhesion was partially blocked by anti-alphaEbeta7.
Conclusion: Expression and adhesion of alphaEbeta7 on activated PBL was significantly increased in patients with SLE with epithelial involvement. This suggests a role of this novel integrin in tissue-specific retention of activated PBL, due to increased alphaEbeta7-E-cadherin interaction, which may contribute to epithelial inflammation.