We investigated whether serum CXC ligand 13 protein (CXCL13) levels correlate with the circulating plasmablasts and memory B-cells alteration in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. The diagnostic use of CXCL13 concentrations in active lupus was also analyzed.
A total of 36 SLE patients and 18 healthy controls were included. Serum CXCL13 levels were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The frequency and absolute count of circulating plasmablasts and memory B cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. Receiver operating characteristic curves (ROC curves) were generated to analyze the utility of serum CXCL13 level and plasmablasts frequency as tools for the recognition of active SLE.
Elevation of serum CXCL13 levels, higher plasmablasts frequency, and reduction of memory B-cells count were observed in SLE patients, compared with healthy controls. Interestingly, correlational analyses showed not only significantly positive association between CXCL13 levels and SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) or plasmablasts frequency, but an inverse correlation between CXCL13 concentration and memory B-cell count. ROC curves showed that serum CXCL13 level and plasmablasts frequency were practical in identifying active disease from overall SLE patients, with considerable accuracy.
Serum CXCL13 levels correlate with the alteration of plasmablasts and memory B cells in SLE. CXCL13 may be used as a practical tool in judgment of active SLE.