Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the common manifestations of SLE, which affects the quality of life of patients. Abnormality in the adaptive immune response, such as T cell response, plays the main role in the pathogenesis of SLE and LN. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the role of different subpopulations of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and effector T cells (Teff) in patients with LN and compare them with SLE patients.
A total of 48 participants were enrolled in this study and divided into three groups: (i) patients with SLE; (ii) patients with LN; and (iii) healthy controls (HCs) subjects. The frequencies of CD4 CD25 CD45RA Foxp3 activated Tregs (aTregs), CD4 CD25 CD45RA Foxp3 resting Tregs (rTregs), CD4 CD25 CD45RA Foxp3 non-Tregs, CD4 CD25 Foxp3 Teff, and Tregs were analyzed in all subjects using flow cytometer.
LN patients had a considerable increased frequency of aTregs and Tregs compared with SLE patients (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.50; 95% CI [-0.26, 1.25]; p > 0.05 and SMD 0.60; 95% CI [-0.16, 1.36]; p > 0.05, respectively). Patients with LN had a considerable increased frequency of Teff compared with SLE patients (SMD 0.49; 95% CI [-0.26, 1.24]; p > 0.05). However, the increased ratio of Tregs/Teff was observed in patients with LN compared with SLE patients (SMD -0.25; 95% CI [-0.97, 0.48]; p > 0.05).
Patients with LN showed immunoregulatory properties, in which both aTregs and Tregs had increased frequencies.

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