The Proportion of Regulatory T Cells in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Meta-Analysis
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Background: Regulatory T cells (Tregs) have important functions in peripheral immune tolerance. Dysfunction of Tregs is considered to be a pivotal cause of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, previous reports describing the proportion of Tregs among CD4+ T cells in RA patients were controversial because a range of markers are used to identify Tregs with little consensus. To clarify the status of Tregs in RA, we investigated the proportion of Tregs with focusing on the definitions of them. Methods: We identified the studies reporting the proportion of Tregs in RA patients using PubMed and Google Scholar. We performed a systematic review of them and a meta-analysis to evaluate the proportion of Tregs (FOXP3-positive and/or CD25-positive) among CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood (PB) and synovial fluid (SF) of RA patients and control subjects. Results: A total 31 studies were selected. The proportion of Tregs defined by all definitions among CD4+ T cells in PB was not significantly different between RA patients and control subjects (-0.65, [-1.30, 0.01]). Then we performed sub-analyses based on individual definitions. The proportion of Tregs defined by either CD25 or FOXP3 alone did not differ between RA patients and control subjects. The proportion of Tregs defined by both FOXP3 and CD25 was lower in RA patients than that in control subjects (-2.42 [-3.49, -1.34]). The proportion of Tregs defined by both FOXP3 and CD25 was higher in SF than that in PB among RA patients (3.27 [0.40, 6.14]). Conclusion: The status of Tregs varied according to the definition system. The proportion of Tregs defined by stricter and functionally validated methods decreased in PB and increased in SF among RA patients. If the proportion of Tregs differs in RA, accurate and functionally relevant definitions of Tregs are necessary to elucidate their status in RA.
- PLOS ONE
PLOS ONE 11(9), 2016-09-13
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