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Features of BAFF and APRIL receptors on circulating B cells in antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis.

To investigate the features of circulating B cells, their expressing receptors, serum levels of B-cell activation factor of the TNF family (BAFF), and a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) in antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (AAV). Blood samples from 24 patients with active AAV (a-AAV), 13 with inactive AAV (i-AAV), and 19 healthy controls (HC) were included in this study. The proportion of B cells and their expressing BAFF receptor (BAFF-R), transmembrane activator and calcium modulator and cyclophilin ligand interactor (TACI), and B-cell maturation antigen were analyzed via flow cytometry. Serum levels of BAFF, APRIL, and interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-10, and IL-13 were also evaluated using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The proportion of plasmablasts (PB)/plasma cells (PC) and serum levels of BAFF, APRIL, IL-4, and IL-6 were significantly higher in a-AAV than in HC. Higher serum levels of BAFF, APRIL, and IL-4 were observed in i-AAV than in HC. Lower expression of BAFF-R on memory B cells and higher expression of TACI on CD19+ cells, immature B cells, and PB/PC were demonstrated in a-AAV and i-AAV than in HC. The population of memory B cells was positively associated with serum APRIL levels and BAFF-R expression in a-AAV. In conclusion, decreased expression of BAFF-R on memory B cells and increased expression of TACI on CD19+ cells, immature B cells, and PB/PC, as well as increased serum levels of BAFF and APRIL, were sustained even in the remission phase of AAV. Persistent aberrant signaling of BAFF/APRIL may contribute to disease relapse.

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