Vaccinating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with attenuated T-cells improved their symptoms, according to results of a small controlled trial.
It supported previous findings that the vaccination can help lupus patients.
The study, “The Impact of T Cell Vaccination in Alleviating and Regulating Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Manifestation,” was published in the Journal of Immunology Research.
T-cells are immune cells that play a key role in lupus. The idea behind T-cell vaccination is that immunizing a person with T-cells that are auto-reactive — that is, that target their own tissue — can suppress harmful T-cells. Evidence that this approach works has been available but limited, however.
Auto-reactive T-cells can prompt another type of immune cell, B-cells, to become hyper-active, triggering a surge in antibody production.
Researchers gave T-cell vaccinations to 15 women and one man with SLE. Each got four doses — in the first, second, fourth, and eighth weeks. The patients were studied for an average length of 27 weeks.
All patients received supporting therapies during their treatment, including folic acid, vitamin B, calcium, and an H2 receptor blocker such as lansoprazole or omeprazole.
The parameters the research team used to measure the vaccination’s impact included patient symptoms, the presence of antibodies in their blood, and their scores on the SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI).
Researchers monitored patients’ use of other therapies during treatment and follow-up, and watched for side effects.
Most patients showed improvement after four weeks of treatment, and continued to improve at eight weeks.
One sign of improvement was less face rash. Another was an increase in patients’ C3 and C4 proteins, which play a role in inflammation and are known to be lower in lupus patients. Still another sign of improvement was better SLEDAI scores.
The benefits came without signs of harmful side effects, researchers said.
Overall, the results supported previous findings that attenuated T-cell vaccination is a safe and effective strategy against SLE.
“Currently, although former research on TCV has promised a bright future in the treatment of ADs [autoimmune diseases], implementation of TCV in SLE still faces great challenges,” the researchers wrote. “Clinical trials with a large population and animal tests for interpreting mechanisms are all necessary for advancing the utilization of TCV in SLE,” they concluded.