Parkinson's disease and immunological abnormalities: increase of HLA-DR expression on monocytes in cerebrospinal fluid and of CD45RO+ T cells in peripheral blood


Sten Fredrikson, Department of Neurology, Huddinge Hospital, S-141 86 Huddinge, Sweden


The etiology of Parkinson's disease is mainly unknown. Immune abnormalities have been described, but the cause of such abnormalities has not been resolved. We examined by two-colour flow cytometry HLA-DR antigen expression on monocytes from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood and, moreover, lymphocyte subpopulations (CD4+ CD45RO+, CD4+ CD45RA+, CD8+ CD11b+high) in peripheral blood from patients with Parkinson's disease compared with age-matched patients with other neurological diseases (OND) and tension headache. We found higher HLA-DR expression on CSF monocytes compared with blood monocytes. This difference was restricted to Parkinson's disease patients. T helper cell analysis revealed a decreased percentage of CD45RA+“naive” and an increased percentage of CD45RO+“memory” T cell subset from CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood of patients with Parkinson's disease compared with patients with tension headache. The proportions of CD8+ CD11b+high“suppressor” T cells remained unchanged, among the three patient groups compared. A selective loss of CD4+ CD45RA+ cells, previously observed in diseases like multiple sclerosis and Down's syndrome as compared with healthy controls suggests a common immunological abnormality in neurological disorders.