Objective. The aim of this study was to investigate the turnover of Treg cells in the SF of RA patients.
Methods. Treg cells were enumerated in peripheral blood and SF of RA patients and analysed by flow cytometry for expression of the proliferation marker Ki-67 and binding of the apoptosis marker annexin V. Sorted Treg cells of RA patients were analysed for expression of anti-apoptotic regulators Bcl-2 and microRNA-21 (miR-21) by RT-PCR.
Results. Treg cells displaying a memory phenotype were abundant in the SF of RA patients. SF Treg cells more frequently expressed the proliferation marker Ki-67 than conventional T cells. Only few SF Treg cells were apoptotic, as indicated by limited annexin V staining of these cells. SF Treg cells displayed high transcription levels of Bcl-2 and miR-21 in comparison with SF conventional T cells and peripheral blood Treg cells.
Conclusion. Treg cells with a memory phenotype accumulate in the SF of RA patients. These Treg cells have a high proliferative activity and demonstrate little apoptosis. The latter finding could be explained by high transcription of Bcl-2 and miR-21 in SF Treg cells.