The impact of an early truncating founder ATM mutation on immunoglobulins, specific antibodies and lymphocyte populations in ataxia-telangiectasia patients and their parents


Asbjørg Stray-Pedersen, Department of Paediatrics, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, N-0027 Oslo, Norway.


Eleven Norwegian patients (aged 2–33 years, seven males and four females) with Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) and their parents were investigated. Five of the patients were homozygous for the same ATM mutation, 3245delATCinsTGAT, a Norwegian founder mutation. They had the lowest IgG2 levels; mean (95% confidence interval) 0·23 (0·05–0·41) g/l versus 0·91 (0·58–1·26) g/l in the other patients (P = 0·002). Among the 11 A-T patients, six had IgG2 deficiency, six had IgA deficiency (three in combination with IgG2 deficiency) and seven had low/undetectable IgE values. All patients had very low levels of antibodies to Streptococcus pneumoniae 0·9 (0·4–1·4) U/ml, while normal levels were found in their parents 11·1 (8·7–13·4) U/ml (P < 0·001). A positive linear relationship between pneumococcal antibodies and IgG2 (r = 0·85, P = 0·001) was found in the patients. Six of 11 had diphtheria antibodies and 7 of 11 tetanus antibodies after childhood vaccinations, while 4 of 7 Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccinated patients had protective antibodies. Ten patients had low B cell (CD19+) counts, while six had low T cell (CD3+) counts. Of the T cell subpopulations, 11 had low CD4+ cell counts, six had reduced CD8+ cell counts, and four had an increased portion of double negative (CD3+/CD4-/CD8-) gamma delta T cells. Of the 22 parents (aged 23–64 years) 12 were heterozygous for the ATM founder mutation. Abnormalities in immunoglobulin levels and/or lymphocyte subpopulations were also observed in these carriers, with no correlation to a special ATM genotype.