The mechanisms underlying endothelial cell injury and defective vascular repair in systemic sclerosis (SSc) remain unclear. Since the recently discovered angiogenic T cells (Tang) may have an important role in the repair of damaged endothelium, this study aimed to analyze the Tang population in relation to disease-related peripheral vascular features in SSc patients. Tang (CD3+CD31+CXCR4+) were quantified by flow cytometry in peripheral blood samples from 39 SSc patients and 18 healthy controls (HC). Circulating levels of the CXCR4 ligand stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1α and proangiogenic factors were assessed in paired serum samples by immunoassay. Serial skin sections from SSc patients and HC were subjected to CD3/CD31 and CD3/CXCR4 double immunofluorescence. Circulating Tang were significantly increased in SSc patients with digital ulcers (DU) compared either with SSc patients without DU or with HC. Tang levels were significantly higher in SSc patients with late nailfold videocapillaroscopy (NVC) pattern than in those with early/active NVC patterns and in HC. No difference in circulating Tang was found when comparing either SSc patients without DU or patients with early/active NVC patterns and HC. In SSc peripheral blood, Tang percentage was inversely correlated to levels of SDF-1α and CD34+CD133+VEGFR-2+ endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), and positively correlated to levels of vascular endothelial growth factor and matrix metalloproteinase-9. Tang were frequently detected in SSc dermal perivascular inflammatory infiltrates. In summary, our findings demonstrate for the first time that Tang cells are selectively expanded in the circulation of SSc patients displaying severe peripheral vascular complications like DU. In SSc, Tang may represent a potentially useful biomarker reflecting peripheral vascular damage severity. Tang expansion may be an ineffective attempt to compensate the need for increased angiogenesis and EPC function. Further studies are required to clarify the function of Tang cells and investigate the mechanisms responsible for their change in SSc.
Angiogenic T cell expansion correlates with severity of peripheral vascular damage in systemic sclerosis / Manetti, Mirko; Pratesi, Sara; Romano, Eloisa; BELLANDO RANDONE, Silvia; Rosa, Irene; Guiducci, Serena; Fioretto, Bianca Saveria; Ibba, Lidia; Maggi, Enrico; MATUCCI CERINIC, Marco. - In: PLOS ONE. - ISSN 1932-6203. - 12:(2017), pp. e0183102-e0183102. [10.1371/journal.pone.0183102]