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Elevated levels of Th17/regulatory T cells in peripheral blood are associated with disease activity of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

YAO Xueming;CAO Yuepeng;MA Wukai;HOU Lei;ZHONG Qin;HUANG Ying;TANG Fang;XU Hui;LIANG Jiang;Department of Rheumatology and Immunology,Second Affiliated Hospital,Guiyang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine;  
Objective To detect the relative quantity of Th17 cells and regulatory T cell(Tregs) in peripheral blood of patients with rheumatoid arthritis(RA) and explore its clinical significance.Methods The study enrolled 60 patients who met the diagnostic criteria of RA and 15 healthy subjects as control group.Using flow cytometry,we tested the percentage of Th17 cells/Tregs in the total CD4+cells in peripheral blood and contrasted the difference between the RA patients and healthy subjects.Then we analyzed the relationships of the Th17 cel s/Tregs expression with the numbers of swol en and tender joints,DAS28 scores,pain intensity on a visual analogue scale(VAS),erythrocyte sedimentation rate(ESR) and C-reactive protein(CRP).Results Compared with the controls,the RA patients presented with significantly increased Th17 cell number and decreased Tregs.There was a positive correlation between the number of Th17 cells in peripheral blood of the RA patients and the numbers of swollen and tender joints,DAS28 scores and CRP,and no correlation between the number of Tregs and the indices of the disease activity like the numbers of swollen and tender joints,DAS28 scores,pain on the VAS,ESR and CRP.Conclusion The relative quantity of Th17 cells rises and that of Tregs drops in peripheral blood of RA patients,and the increase of Th17 cells is related to the disease activity of RA.
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