Immunomodulatory receptors are differentially expressed in B and T cell subsets relevant to autoimmune disease
Inhibitory cell-surface receptors on lymphocytes, often called immune checkpoints, are powerful targets for cancer therapy. Despite their direct involvement in autoimmune pathology, they are currently not exploited therapeutically for autoimmune diseases. Understanding the expression pattern of these receptors in health and disease is essential for targeted drug design. Here, we designed three 23-colour flow cytometry panels for peripheral-blood T cells, including 15 lineage-defining markers and 21 immunomodulatory cell-surface receptors, and a 22-marker panel for B cells. Blood samples from healthy individuals, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lupus (SLE) patients were included in the study. Several receptors show differential expression on regulatory T cells (Treg) compared to T helper (Th) 1 and Th17 cells, and functional relevance of this difference could be shown for BTLA and CD5. Unbiased multiparametric analysis revealed a subset of activated CD8+ T cells and a subset of unswitched memory B cells that are diminished in MS and SLE, respectively.