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Vol. 140, No. 2, 2006
Issue release date: May 2006
Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2006;140:139–149

Enhanced Frequency of CD18- and CD49b-Expressing T Cells in Peripheral Blood of Asthmatic Patients Correlates with Disease Severity

Rahmoun M. · Foussat A. · Groux H. · Pène J. · Yssel H. · Chanez P.
aINSERM U454, and bClinique des Maladies Respiratoires CHU de Montpellier, Montpellier, and cTxCell, Sophia Antipolis, France

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Background: Results from a transcriptome analysis of human CD4+ T regulatory type 1 (Tr1) clones have indicated that transcripts for the integrins CD18 and CD49b are overexpressed in these cells. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the presence of T cells concomitantly expressing these molecules could be detected in asthmatic patients and represent Tr1 cells. Methods:Expression of CD18 and CD49b was analyzed by flow cytometry on peripheral blood mononuclear cells from asthmatic patients of various severity and healthy subjects. The cytokine production profile of purified CD4+ CD18high CD49b+ T cells was analyzed by ELISA. The effect of glucocorticoid treatment on the expression of CD18 and CD49b was determined. Results: The frequency of peripheral blood CD18high CD49b+ T cells was significantly elevated in severe asthmatic patients, as compared with both mild asthmatic and healthy donors, and was diminished in asthmatic patients with a controlled status of the disease. Neither short-course oral glucocorticoid treatment of asthmatic patients ex vivo, nor culture of their peripheral blood mononuclear cells with dexamethasone in vitro, increased the frequency of CD18high CD49b+ T cells, indicating that their presence seems to be independent from recent anti-inflammatory treatment. However, purified CD4+ CD18high CD49b+ T cells from these patients, in contrast to those from healthy donors, lacked the production of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin-10. Conclusion: In contrast to healthy donors, peripheral blood CD18high CD49b+ T cells of asthmatic patients do not fulfill the phenotypic criteria of Tr1 cells. Nevertheless, the presence of elevated numbers of peripheral blood CD18high CD49b+ T cells is characteristic for patients with severe and uncontrolled asthma.

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