Differential expression of BAFF and its receptors in discoid lupus erythematosus patients

Benjamin F. Chong, Lin chiang Tseng, Andrew Kim, Rodney T. Miller, Kim B. Yancey, Gregory A. Hosler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: B-cell activating factor of the TNF family (BAFF) promotes the maturation and survival of B cells. Because BAFF levels are elevated in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, BAFF has been the target of emerging therapies for SLE, such as belimumab. Levels of BAFF and its receptors in discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) patients are unknown. Objective: To compare skin and blood mRNA and protein levels of BAFF and its receptors BAFF-R, TACI, and BCMA in DLE subjects with (DLE. +/SLE. + (N= 28)) and without SLE (DLE. +/SLE- (N= 35)), psoriasis subjects (N= 11), and normal subjects (N= 42). Methods: We used quantitative real-time PCR to measure blood and skin BAFF, BAFF-R, TACI, and BCMA mRNA, sandwich ELISAs to measure sera BAFF, and immunohistochemistry to evaluate BAFF and BAFF-R skin protein expression. Results: BAFF mRNA and protein levels were highest in DLE+/SLE+blood, followed by DLE+/SLE-, psoriasis, and normal blood. BAFF protein also correlated with anti-nuclear antibodies, and autoantibodies against double-stranded DNA, single-stranded DNA, and ribonucleoprotein, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index scores in DLE patients. While showing no difference between DLE+/SLE+ and DLE+/SLE- skin, BAFF and its receptors mRNA were up-regulated in DLE skin vs. normal and psoriasis skin. DLE skin had higher percentages of BAFF-R+ inflammatory cells, likely T cells and macrophages, than psoriasis and normal skin. Conclusions: BAFF may be a serologic marker of systemic disease in DLE patients. BAFF and its receptors are elevated in DLE skin, suggesting that targeted therapies against these proteins could treat refractory DLE patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-224
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dermatological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • BAFF
  • BAFF-R
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus
  • Macrophage
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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