BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder. Although the pathogenesis of disease is unclear, it is well known that T cells play a major role in both development and perpetuation of RA through activating macrophages and B cells. Since the lack of TNF-Related Apoptosis Inducing Ligand (TRAIL) expression resulted in defective thymocyte apoptosis leading to an autoimmune disease, we explored evidence for alterations in TRAIL/TRAIL receptor expression on peripheral T lymphocytes in the molecular mechanism of RA development.
METHODS: The expression of TRAIL/TRAIL receptors on T cells in 20 RA patients and 12 control individuals were analyzed using flow cytometry. The correlation of TRAIL and its receptor expression profile was compared with clinical RA parameters (RA activity scored as per DAS28) using Spearman Rho Analysis.
RESULTS: While no change was detected in the ratio of CD4+ to CD8+ T cells between controls and RA patient groups, upregulation of TRAIL and its receptors (both death and decoy) was detected on both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in RA patients compared to control individuals. Death Receptor-4 (DR4) and the decoy receptors DcR1 and DcR2 on CD8+ T cells, but not on CD4+ T cells, were positively correlated with patients' DAS scores.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that TRAIL/TRAIL receptor expression profiles on T cells might be important in revelation of RA pathogenesis.