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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Single-cell insights into immune dysregulation in rheumatoid arthritis flare versus drug-free remission

Baker, Kenneth, McDonald, David, Hulme, Gillian, Hussain, Rafiqul, Coxhead, Jonathan, Swan, David, Schulz, Axel, Mei, Henrik, MacDonald, Lucy, Pratt, Arthur, Filby, Andrew, Anderson, Amy and Isaacs, John (2024) Single-cell insights into immune dysregulation in rheumatoid arthritis flare versus drug-free remission. Nature Communications. ISSN ISSN 2041-1723

Item Type: Article


Immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs) are typically characterised by relapsing and remitting flares of inflammation. However, the unpredictability of disease flares impedes their study. Addressing this critical knowledge gap, we use the experimental medicine approach of immunomodulatory drug withdrawal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remission to synchronise flare processes allowing detailed characterisation. Exploratory mass cytometry analyses reveal three circulating cellular subsets heralding the onset of arthritis flare – CD45RO+PD1hi CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and CD27+CD86+CD21- B cells – further characterised by single-cell sequencing. Distinct lymphocyte subsets including cytotoxic and exhausted CD4+ memory T cells, memory CD8+CXCR5+ T cells, and IGHA1+ plasma cells are primed for activation in flare patients. Regulatory memory CD4+ T cells (Treg cells) increase at flare onset, but with dysfunctional regulatory marker expression compared to drug-free remission. Significant clonal expansion is observed in T cells, but not B cells, after drug cessation; this is widespread throughout memory CD8+ T cell subsets but limited to the granzyme-expressing cytotoxic subset within CD4+ memory T cells. Based on our observations, we suggest a model of immune dysregulation for understanding RA flare, with potential for further translational research towards novel avenues for its treatment and prevention.

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Depositing User: David Swan


Item ID: 17588
Identification Number:
ISSN: ISSN 2041-1723
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for David Swan: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2024 11:31
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2024 11:31


Author: David Swan ORCID iD
Author: Kenneth Baker
Author: David McDonald
Author: Gillian Hulme
Author: Rafiqul Hussain
Author: Jonathan Coxhead
Author: Axel Schulz
Author: Henrik Mei
Author: Lucy MacDonald
Author: Arthur Pratt
Author: Andrew Filby
Author: Amy Anderson
Author: John Isaacs

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Medicine


Sciences > Health Sciences

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