Decreased BAFF Receptor Expression and Unaltered B Cell Receptor Signaling in Circulating B Cells from Primary Sjogren's Syndrome Patients at Diagnosis

Stefan F. H. Neys, Gwenny M. Verstappen, Hendrika Bootsma, Frans G. M. Kroese, Rudi W. Hendriks, Odilia B. J. Corneth

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Animal models of autoimmunity and human genetic association studies indicate that the dysregulation of B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling is an important driver of autoimmunity. We previously showed that in circulating B cells from primary Sjogren's syndrome (pSS) patients with high systemic disease activity, protein expression of the BCR signaling molecule Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) was increased and correlated with T-cell infiltration in the target organ. We hypothesized that these alterations could be driven by increased B-cell activating factor (BAFF) levels in pSS. Here, we investigated whether altered BCR signaling was already present at diagnosis and distinguished pSS from non-SS sicca patients. Using (phospho-)flow cytometry, we quantified the phosphorylation of BCR signaling molecules, and investigated BTK and BAFF receptor (BAFFR) expression in circulating B cell subsets in an inception cohort of non-SS sicca and pSS patients, as well as healthy controls (HCs). We found that both BTK protein levels and BCR signaling activity were comparable among groups. Interestingly, BAFFR expression was significantly downregulated in pSS, but not in non-SS sicca patients, compared with HCs, and correlated with pSS-associated alterations in B cell subsets. These data indicate reduced BAFFR expression as a possible sign of early B cell involvement and a diagnostic marker for pSS.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's13
TijdschriftInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Nummer van het tijdschrift9
StatusPublished - mei-2022

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