• Cytoplasmic FOXO1 identifies a novel disease-activity associated B cell phenotype in SLE

      Hritzo, Ahye, M.K.; Golding, A. (BMJ Publishing Group, 2018)
      Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a manifestation of hyperactivated lymphocytes and results, in part, from the loss of normal tolerance checkpoints. FOXO1 is a transcription factor involved at critical early and late B cell development checkpoints; however, its role in regulating peripheral B cell tolerance is not fully understood. We have applied our published approach for using imaging flow cytometry to study native FOXO1 localisation in human lymphocytes to peripheral blood samples from healthy individuals versus patients with SLE. We report, here, on dramatic cytoplasmic localisation of FOXO1 in two peripheral B cell SLE subsets: IgD-CD27+ (class-switched memory) B cells and IgD-CD27- (atypical memory) B cells. The latter, so-called Double Negative' (DN) B cells have previously been shown to be increased in SLE and enriched in autoreactive clones. Cytoplasmic-predominant FOXO1 (CytoFOX) B cells are significantly increased in patients with SLE as compared to healthy controls, and the levels of CytoFoOX DN B cells correlate directly with SLE disease activity. The highest abundance of CytoFox DN B cells was observed in African American females with SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI)?6. The phenotype of CytoFOX DN B cells in SLE includes uniquely low CD20 expression and high granularity/side scatter. As FOXO1 phosphorylation downstream of B cell receptor-dependent signalling is required for nuclear exclusion, CytoFOX B cells likely represent a high state of B cell activation with excess signalling and/or loss of phosphatase activity. We hypothesise that CytoFOX B cells in lupus represent a novel biomarker for the expansion of pathological, autoreactive B cells which may provide new insights into the pathophysiology of SLE. � Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.