Reduced circulating natural killer T cells and gamma/delta T cells in patients with systemic sclerosis

Valeria Riccieri, Gilberto Parisi, Antonio Spadaro, Rossana Scrivo, Francesca Barone, Tiziana Moretti, Graziella Bernardini, Roberto Strom, Egisto Taccari, Guido Valesini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) expressing natural killer (NK) cell surface markers (CD16 and CD56, in both CD3- and CD3+ cells) and g/d T cell receptors (TCR) involved in non-MHC-restricted cytotoxicity, assessing their possible relationship with clinical and laboratory variables in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).

METHODS: We submitted 50 patients with SSc to detailed clinical and laboratory assessment, and also performed PBMC subset analyses by direct dual immunofluorescence and flow cytometry.

RESULTS: No statistically significant differences were found in the percentages or the absolute numbers of total lymphocytes, of B cells, and of CD4+ T cells. The absolute number of CD8+ cells was lower (p < 0.03), while HLA-DR+ elements were higher in frequency (p < 0.03) in SSc patients than in healthy controls. SSc patients had lower values (both percentage and absolute number) of NK-T cells (p < 0.01 and p < 0.003, respectively) and of T cells expressing g/d TCR (p < 0.01 and p < 0.005, respectively); whereas NK cells were marginally but not significantly decreased. The absolute number of NK-T cells showed an inverse correlation to erythrocyte sedimentation rate values (p < 0.03; rs = -0.306), percentage of g-globulins (p < 0.01; rs = -0.353), and serum concentrations of IgG (p < 0.02; rs = -0.334).

CONCLUSION: Impairment of NK-T cells and of T cells expressing g/d TCR may lead to downregulation of normal immune response, and seems to be important for immunological and inflammatory aspects of SSc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-6
Number of pages4
JournalThe Journal of Rheumatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Scleroderma, Systemic
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets
  • T-Lymphocytes


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