This study aimed to explore the role of apoptosis initiators, caspase-9, caspase-10, mitochondrial anti-viral signaling protein (MAVS), and interferon regulatory factor 7 (pIRF7), in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Leukocyte apoptosis was determined by flow cytometry, including annexin V, APO2.7, and 7-amino-actinomycin D (7-AAD) on each subtype of leukocyte in 35 patients with SLE, 15 disease controls, and 17 volunteer normal controls. Levels of caspase-9, caspase-10, MAVS, and pIRF7 in mononuclear cells and the disease activity index (SLEDAI) in the SLE patients were determined. Correlation among intracellular adaptor proteins and caspase levels were calculated.
The SLE patients had higher APO2.7 in total leukocyte, lymphocyte, and monocytes, and higher late apoptosis markers in total leukocytes and neutrophils than normal controls (all p < 0.05). Disease activity was positively associated with the APO2.7 of CD19+ cells in SLE, but negatively associated with MAVS and caspase-9 levels (all p < 0.05). Markers of viral infection and anti-virus transcription factors like MDA5, MAVS, and pIRF7 were significantly higher in SLE patients than in disease controls (p < 0.05). Caspase-9 and caspase-10 levels positively correlated with MAVS and pIRF7 in SLE patients (p < 0.05).
The disease activity of SLE is positively associated with APO2.7 level of CD19+ cells but negatively associated with MAVS and caspase-9 levels, which all point to a mitochondrial pathway.