Association of Circulating Antibody-Secreting Cell Maturity With Disease Features in Primary Sjögren's Syndrome

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Objective: B cell hyperactivity plays an important role in primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS). We undertook this study to better understand the B cell effector branch, namely antibody-secreting cells (ASCs) in primary SS, and to examine the quantity, maturity, and inflammatory properties of ASCs in primary SS patients. Methods: Circulating ASCs, defined as CD3–CD14–CD27+CD38++ cells, from 21 primary SS patients and 10 healthy controls were assessed using spectral flow cytometry. Expression levels of relevant ASC markers relating to maturity, survival, and inflammatory status were analyzed using a t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding approach. Correlation of ASC properties with primary SS disease parameters was assessed. Results: ASCs were more abundant in peripheral blood from primary SS patients than from healthy controls (mean ± SD 3.1 ± 5.1 cells/μl versus 1.1 ± 1.0 cells/μl, respectively; P = 0.048) and displayed a more mature phenotype (mean ± SD CD19– ASCs 0.37 ± 1.21 cells/μl versus 0.06 ± 0.11 cells/μl, respectively; P = 0.005). An inflammatory CXCR3+ phenotype of ASCs correlated positively with our newly developed ASC maturity index (r = 0.568, P = 0.007) but correlated negatively with antiinflammatory interleukin-10 expression (r = –0.769, P < 0.001). ASCs with a higher maturity index also demonstrated higher levels of the pro-survival protein myeloid cell leukemia 1 (r = 0.567, P = 0.007). Frequency and/or maturity of ASCs correlated with several primary SS disease parameters, such as antinuclear antibody and anti-La/SSB titers, salivary gland focus scores, and ocular staining scores. Conclusion: Quantity and maturity of ASCs in primary SS patients are increased and correlate with disease parameters. A higher maturity index of ASCs marks a pro-survival and proinflammatory phenotype. Altogether, B cell hyperactivity in primary SS extends to the peripheral ASC compartment, raising potential for ASCs as future biomarkers or targets for primary SS treatment. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-983
Number of pages11
JournalArthritis and Rheumatology
Issue number6
Early online date19-Dec-2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2023


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