Circulating antibodies that could be responsible for the suppressor thymus-derived (T)-cell dysfunction in active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were investigated. Sera from 14 active and inactive SLE patients were compared with a pool of 22 normal sera. All sera were adsorbed with a pool of normal platelets to exclude antihistocompatibility leukocyte antigen antibodies; with AB erythrocytes to exclude isohemagglutinins; and with a pool of normal bone marrow-derived (B) lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils to deplete anti-B-cell antibodies, Fc-receptor antibodies, and antibodies directed against neutrophils or monocytes. Sera from active SLE patients were capable of inhibiting the activation of normal, blood lymphocytes by concanavalin A to become suppressor cells. The latter were assayed by coculturing the concanavalin A-activated cells with autologous lymphocytes, which were then activated with either phytohemagglutinin for proliferative response or with pokeweed mitogen for B-cell immunoglobulin (Ig) synthesis and secretion. Specific incorporation of cultures with phytohemagglutinin showed a value of 67±13 (mean±SD) for suppressor cells treated with adsorbed, active SLE sera. This value was significantly different (P < 0.001) from that of cells treated with the inactive SLE sera or with the pool of normal sera. Similar findings were seen with respect to the B-cell target parameters. Cytoplasmic Ig and IgG in supernates of cultures with pokeweed mitogen showed values of 17±5% and 717±134 ng/culture, respectively, for suppressor cells treated with the adsorbed, active SLE sera. This was significantly different from those treated with the inactive SLE sera or with the pool of normal sera. The antisuppressor-cell factor was shown to be IgG, complement independent, not cytotoxic, active at 37°C and at room temperature, but not at 4°C, and adsorbable with T cells.
Akira Sagawa, Nabih I. Abdou