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Dysregulated CD38 Expression on Peripheral Blood Immune Cell Subsets in SLE.

Abstract

Given its uniformly high expression on plasma cells, CD38 has been considered as a therapeutic target in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Herein, we investigate the distribution of CD38 expression by peripheral blood leukocyte lineages to evaluate the potential therapeutic effect of CD38-targeting antibodies on these immune cell subsets and to delineate the use of CD38 as a biomarker in SLE. We analyzed the expression of CD38 on peripheral blood leukocyte subsets by flow and mass cytometry in two different cohorts, comprising a total of 56 SLE patients. The CD38 expression levels were subsequently correlated across immune cell lineages and subsets, and with clinical and serologic disease parameters of SLE. Compared to healthy controls (HC), CD38 expression levels in SLE were significantly increased on circulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells, CD14++CD16+ monocytes, CD56+ CD16dim natural killer cells, marginal zone-like IgD+CD27+ B cells, and on CD4+ and CD8+ memory T cells. Correlation analyses revealed coordinated CD38 expression between individual innate and memory T cell subsets in SLE but not HC. However, CD38 expression levels were heterogeneous across patients, and no correlation was found between CD38 expression on immune cell subsets and the disease activity index SLEDAI-2K or established serologic and immunological markers of disease activity. In conclusion, we identified widespread changes in CD38 expression on SLE immune cells that highly correlated over different leukocyte subsets within individual patients, but was heterogenous within the population of SLE patients, regardless of disease severity or clinical manifestations. As anti-CD38 treatment is being investigated in SLE, our results may have important implications for the personalized targeting of pathogenic leukocytes by anti-CD38 monoclonal antibodies.

Authors: Burns M, Ostendorf L, Biesen R, Gr├╝tzkau A, Hiepe F, Mei HE, Alexander T,
Journal: Int J Mol Sci; 2021 Feb 28;22(5):2424. doi:10.3390/ijms22052424
Year: 2021
PubMed: PMID: 33670902 (Go to PubMed)