Persistent expression of autoantibodies in SLE patients in remission
Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic
A majority of the antibodies expressed by nascent B cells in healthy humans are self-reactive, but most of these antibodies are removed from the repertoire during B cell development. In contrast, untreated systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients fail to remove many of the self-reactive and polyreactive antibodies from the naive repertoire. Here, we report that SLE patients in clinical remission continue to produce elevated numbers of self-reactive and polyreactive antibodies in the mature naive B cell compartment, but the number of B cells expressing these antibodies is lower than in patients with active disease. Our finding that abnormal levels of self-reactive mature naive B cells persist in the majority of patients in clinical remission suggests that early checkpoint abnormalities are an integral feature of SLE.