Circulating CD5+ B lymphocytes were studied in 39 Chinese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Blood cells were stained with anti-CD5 and anti-CD 19 monoclonal antibodies and were analyzed by flow cytometry. The results showed that there was no elevation of CD5 + B cells in RA patients when compared with 41 healthy control subjects. The circulating levels of CD5 + B cell correlated neither with serum titers of rheumatoid factor (RF) nor with disease activities in these patients. The CD5+ B cell levels remained relatively constant after a serial follow-up for 12 months. The similar pattern of epitope density of CD5 antigens also existed in the same patients. Although most studies in Caucasians revealed increased levels of CD5 + B cells in RA patients, measurements of this marker were not useful for the evaluation of disease activities in Chinese patients. Levels of CD5 + B cells may reflect more individual genetic background and may play a minor role in the flare-up of activities in Chinese patients with RA.
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