Increased expression levels of FcγRIIB on naïve and double-negative memory B cells in patients with systemic sclerosis.


Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan. [Email]


OBJECTIVE : In systemic sclerosis (SSc), B cell hyperactivation and abnormality are considered to play an important role in the disease pathophysiology. We aimed to clarify if the abnormal activation of B cells involves inhibitory FcγRIIB on B cells in SSc patients.
METHODS : Blood samples were collected from 76 SSc patients (38 limited cutaneous SSc and 38 diffuse cutaneous SSc) and 59 healthy controls. We evaluated the expression levels of FcγRIIB on different B cell subsets. B cells were classified into five subsets based on their surface phenotype as measured by flow cytometry: naïve B cells (CD19+IgD+CD27-), pre-switched memory B cells (CD19+IgD+CD27+), double-negative (DN) memory B cells (CD19+IgD-CD27-), switched memory B cells (CD19+IgD-CD27mid), and plasmablasts (CD19+IgD-CD27high). The expression levels of the activation markers CD80, CD86, and CD95 were also examined.
RESULTS : The expression levels of FcγRIIB on SSc naïve and DN memory B cells were significantly increased compared to healthy controls (p<0.05 and p<0.001, respectively). CD80, CD86, and CD95 expression levels were significantly higher in all five B cell subsets, except for CD80 in switched memory B cells and plasmablasts. Increased FcγRIIB expression levels on DN memory B cells were associated with disease activity as assessed by the European Scleroderma Study Group Activity Index, presence of interstitial lung disease (ILD), and reduced lung function. Intravenous cyclophosphamide pulse therapy decreased FcγRIIB expression levels on memory B cell subsets.
CONCLUSIONS : SSc B cells may exhibit compensatory elevation in the expression levels of FcγRIIB in order to suppress the abnormal activation of B cells. In addition, FcγRIIB expression levels may serve as a marker of severe complications, such as ILD, in SSc.