Previous studies demonstrated that patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), especially those with active renal disease, had a marked reduction in T4+2H4+ suppressor inducer cells in their peripheral blood. However, it was puzzling to find that active SLE patients without renal diseases often had normal percentages of T4+2H4+ cells. In the present study, we attempted to determine whether active SLE patients bearing normal percentages of T4+2H4+ cells had a defect in their expression of the 2H4 molecule on T4+ cells after autologous mixed lymphocyte reaction (AMLR) activation. The peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from 50 SLE patients with normal percentages of T4+2H4+ cells (≥7% in PBL) were studied and the results were compared with those of 40 normal individuals. The density of the 2H4 molecule on T4 cells from normal controls increased during the 7-d AMLR; in contrast T4 cells from patients with SLE, especially those with active SLE, had defective expression of the 2H4 antigen after AMLR activation. Patients with inactive SLE, like normals, showed an increase in the 2H4 molecule after AMLR activation. Moreover, a strong correlation was observed between percent suppression of pokeweed mitogen (PWM)-driven IgG synthesis and the density of the 2H4 antigen on AMLR-activated T4 cells. Serial analysis of patients with SLE showed that the density of the 2H4 antigen expression and the suppressor inducer activity of AMLR-activated T4 cells were inversely correlated with disease activity. Thus, defective expression of the 2H4 antigen may be an important mechanism for the failure of active SLE patients with normal percentages of T4+2H4+ cells to generate suppression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas