T cell phenotypes in patients with common variable immunodeficiency disorders: associations with clinical phenotypes in comparison with other groups with recurrent infections


B. L. Ferry, Department of Clinical Laboratory Immunology, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Headington, Oxford OX3 7 LJ, UK. E-mail: Berne.Ferry@ouh.nhs.uk


Common variable immunodeficiency disorders (CVID) are a group of heterogeneous conditions that have in common primary failure of B cell function, although numerous T cell abnormalities have been described, including reduced proliferative response and reduced regulatory T cells. This study compared the T cell phenotype of CVID patients subdivided into clinical phenotypes as well as patients with partial antibody deficiencies [immunoglobulin (Ig)G subclass deficiency and selective IgA deficiency], X-linked agammaglobulinaemia (XLA) and healthy and disease controls. Absolute numbers of T cell subpopulations were measured by four-colour flow cytometry: naive T cells, central and effector memory and terminally differentiated (TEM) T cells, using CD45RA and CCR7 expression. Early, intermediate and late differentiation status of T cells was measured by CD27/CD28 expression. Putative follicular T cells, recent thymic emigrants and regulatory T cells were also assessed. Significant reduction in naive CD4 T cells, with reduced total CD4 and recent thymic emigrant numbers, was observed in CVID patients, most pronounced in those with autoimmune cytopenias or polyclonal lymphoproliferation. These findings suggest a lack of replenishment by new thymically derived cells. CD8 naive T cells were reduced in CVID patients, most significantly in the autoimmune cytopenia subgroup. There was a reduction in early differentiated CD4 and CD8 T cells and increased CD8 TEM in the CVID patients, particularly autoimmune cytopenia and polyclonal lymphoproliferation subgroups, suggesting a more activated T cell phenotype, due perhaps to an antigen-driven process. XLA patients had significantly reduced putative follicular T cells, which may depend on B cells for survival, while no significant alterations were observed in the T cells of those with IgG subclass deficiency or selective IgA deficiency.