Activated CD4+ and CD8+ T Cell Proportions in Multiple Sclerosis Patients
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The goal of this study was to trace the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) by evaluating the lymphocyte subpopulation counts and the levels of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation using flow cytometry. Samples obtained from healthy subjects (N = 40) and patients with MS (N = 290) were analyzed. Lymphocytes were labeled for the surface markers CD4+, CD8+, CD3+, CD16+, CD19+, CD45+, and CD53+ and the activation marker HLA-DR+. Cell counts were then determined using flow cytometry. A high degree of inter-individual variability was observed in the counts of all lymphocyte subtypes in the MS group. A significantly lower proportion of CD3+ T cells (69 ± 14 % in healthy subjects and 60 ± 17 % as a percent of total lymphocytes in MS patients), CD4+ T cells (41 ± 11 and 28 ± 18 %, respectively), and a significantly higher proportion of NK T cells (12 ± 5 and 25 ± 21 %, respectively) were observed in patients with MS than in healthy subjects. These differences led to a lowered CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratio. Furthermore, a significantly lower proportion of activated CD4+ T cells (HLA-DR+ CD4+; from 48 ± 10 to 38 ± 15 % as a percent of CD4+ cells) was observed in patients with MS than in healthy subjects. The high level of inter-individual variability in lymphocyte cell counts and the counts of activated T cells suggest that MS is a complex and heterogeneous disease.
KEY WORDSmultiple sclerosis T lymphocytes CD4+ T helper cells CD8+ cytotoxic T cells
The author thanks Prof. Ziemssen and the team at MS Center Dresden for providing clinical data and patient samples.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Dresden University and conformed to the directives of the Helsinki Declaration. All patients who were involved in this study provided written informed consent.
The author declares that he has no competing interests.
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