Phenotype, proliferation and apoptosis of B lymphocytes in hemodialysis patients treated with recombinant human erythropoietin

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One of the major causes of disorders of the immune response in patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD) is weaker activity of their helper T lymphocytes (Th cells), mainly reduced proliferative capacity associated with decreased expression of key surface antigens. Since cooperation between Th and B lymphocytes is essential for B cell function, changes in Th cell phenotype and ability to proliferate or produce cytokines could directly translate into an impaired humoral response. Therefore, we investigated the T cell-dependent activity of B cells in HD patients focusing mainly on their proliferative kinetics, susceptibility to apoptosis and the ability to produce antibodies. Since our previous studies have shown the beneficial effects of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) on T lymphocytes, we also investigated the in vivo and in vitro influence of rhEPO on B cells. Our results show that B lymphocytes of HD patients, especially of those who are not treated with rhEPO, have reduced proliferative capacity in vitro, reflected in low number of cell divisions, decreased percentage of proliferating cells and an increased susceptibility to apoptosis. They are also characterized by impaired ability to produce immunoglobulins. We have found no significant changes in the expression of key antigens of B lymphocytes with the exception of IL-10R. Furthermore, we demonstrated a time- and health status-dependent impact of rhEPO on patient’s B cells. Our results show possible mechanisms responsible for the deficiency of humoral responses in HD patients which, at least partially, can be modulated through the supplementation with rhEPO.

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