Lindqvist CA, Christiansson LH, Thörn I, Mangsbo S, Paul-Wetterberg G, Sundström C, Tötterman TH, Simonsson B, Enblad G, Frisk P, Olsson-Strömberg U, Loskog AS
Immunology 133 (3) 296-306 [2011-07-00; online 2011-04-05]
Cytotoxic CD4(+) T cells have been found in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and seem to be involved in the regulation of malignant B cells. The CD4(+) T regulatory cells (Tregs) can regulate various immune cells, including B cells, by inducing their apoptosis. Hence, different subgroups of CD4(+) T cells may be involved in the regulation of malignant B cells. In this study, the cytotoxic phenotype and function of various CD4(+) T-cell subgroups were investigated in patients with B-cell malignancies. Peripheral blood was collected from patients with CLL, various B-cell lymphomas, healthy adult donors, children with precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (pre-B ALL) and from healthy children. CD4(+) T cells (CD3(+) CD4(+) FoxP3(-)), Tregs (CD3(+) CD4(+) CD127(low) FoxP3(+)) and CD127(high) FoxP3(+) T cells (CD3(+) CD4(+) CD127(high) FoxP3(+)) were analysed for their expression of the cytolytic markers CD107a and Fas ligand. Patients with CLL had increased CD107a expression on all tested T-cell subgroups compared with healthy donors. Similar results were found in patients with B-cell lymphomas whereas the CD107a expression in children with pre-B ALL was no different from that in healthy controls. Fas ligand expression was similar between patient cells and cells of healthy donors. CD4(+) T cells and Tregs from patients with CLL and healthy donors were subsequently purified and cultured in vitro with autologous B cells. Both subgroups lysed B cells and killing was confirmed by granzyme ELISAs. In conclusion, cytotoxic populations of CD4(+) T cells, including Tregs, are present in patients with B-cell malignancy and may be an important factor in immune-related disease control.