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Keywords:

  • Anergy;
  • Common variable immunodeficiency;
  • Telomeres

Abstract

A subset of patients with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), group 1a of the Freiburg classification, is characterized by increased B cells expressing low levels of CD21 (CD21low), lymphoproliferation and autoimmunity. The CD21low B cells have been shown to be profoundly anergic, and defects of BCR-mediated calcium signaling and of T cells have been described in CVID 1a. We found that also the classical naïve B cells from CVID 1a patients, but not from CVID non-1a patients, proliferated poorly. The B cells of CVID 1a patients had a reduced capacity to divide reminiscent of the proliferative arrest associated with replicative senescence. Thus, we investigated whether lymphocyte dysfunction in CVID 1a was related to telomere-dependent replicative senescence, and found that both the B and the T cells from CVID 1a patients had significantly shorter telomeres compared with B and T cells from CVID non-1a patients. Telomere lengths in B and T cells were significantly correlated, indicating that the rate of telomere attrition in lymphocytes is an individual characteristic of CVID patients. Our findings suggest that telomere-dependent replicative senescence contributes to the immune dysfunction of CVID 1a patients, and may provide an important clue for a better understanding of the pathogenesis of CVID.