T cells in primary Sjögren's syndrome: targets for early intervention

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A histologic hallmark of primary SS (pSS) is lymphocytic infiltration of the salivary and lacrimal glands, in particular by CD4+ T and B cells. In the early stages of the disease, infiltrates are dominated by CD4+ T cells, while B cell accumulation occurs at later stages. Activated T cells contribute to pathogenesis by producing pro-inflammatory cytokines and by inducing B cell activation, which results in the establishment of a positive feedback loop. In the inflamed glandular tissues, many different CD4+ effector subsets are present, including IFN-γ-producing Th1 cells, IL-17-producing Th17 cells and IL-21-producing T follicular helper cells. In blood from pSS patients, frequently observed abnormalities of the T cell compartment are CD4+ T cell lymphopenia and enrichment of circulating follicular helper T (Tfh) cells. Tfh cells are critical mediators of T cell-dependent B cell hyperactivity and these cells can be targeted by immunotherapy. Inhibition of T cell activation, preferably early in the disease process, can mitigate B cell activity and may be a promising treatment approach in this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15-Feb-2019

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