LE cells, or lupus erythematosus (LE-phenomenon), are specific cells found in human blood in the presence of systemic lupus erythematosus (70-80%) and some other autoimmune diseases. In fact, these are neutrophilic leukocytes containing phagocytosed nuclei of dead leukocytes, while their own cell nucleus is pushed aside. The formation of LE cells of lupus erythematosus occurs in the presence of the LE-factor in the blood plasma and other biological fluids. LE-factor is a special fraction of blood immunoglobulins, when interacting with the nucleus of a leukocyte, causes the destruction of nuclear chromatin, the release of nuclear material from the cell and its subsequent absorption by neutrophilic leukocytes.
In patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), LE cells are found in blood, synovial and cerebrospinal fluids, and pleural effusion. LE cells can be detected in the blood both in systemic lupus erythematosus and in some other autoimmune diseases (systemic scleroderma, dermatomyositis). LE-cells appear in the blood in the early period of the disease or in the period of exacerbation. When the patient’s condition improves, the number of LE cells may decrease, or they disappear altogether.