AIMS: To investigate the lack of equilibrium in the regulatory mechanism of the immune system in Behçet's disease (BD), the expression of Fas antigen, an apoptosis related antigen, on peripheral blood lymphocytes from BD patients was analysed. METHODS: Twenty one BD patients were the subjects in this study. Ten healthy adults were examined as controls. Cell surface antigens of lymphocytes were analysed with flow cytometry. RESULTS: There was a significant (p < 0.01) difference in the proportion of CD4 positive cells with CD25 between BD patients with active uveoretinitis (27.6% (SD 8.4%)) and the controls (14.7% (2.3%)), but no significant difference in the proportion of CD4 or CD45RO positive cells with Fas. On the other hand, the proportion of CD8 positive cells with Fas was significantly (p < 0.01) higher in BD patients with active uveoretinitis (45.6% (11.6%)) than in those with inactive uveoretinitis (23.8% (8.1%)) or in the controls (24.4% (2.5%)). The proportion of CD19 positive cells with Fas was also significantly (p < 0.01) higher in BD patients with active uveoretinitis (13.0% (5.0%)) than in the controls (5.1% (2.1%)). CONCLUSION: The insufficient expression of Fas on activated CD4 positive T cells and its high expression on CD8 positive T cells seem to play an important role in the chronic inflammation in BD.
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