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J Immunol. 1997 Feb 15;158(4):1912-8.

Characteristic T helper 2 T cell cytokine abnormalities in autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome, a syndrome marked by defective apoptosis and humoral autoimmunity.

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  • 1Mucosal Immunity Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS) is marked by massive lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, autoimmunity and the presence of increased numbers of circulating and tissue TCR-alpha beta, CD4- CD8- T cells. The underlying defect is that of decreased T cell and B cell apoptosis, due in most, but not all, cases to heterozygous mutations of the Fas gene and corresponding defective Fas signaling function. Here we measure in vivo and in vitro cytokine secretion in ALPS to shed light on the relation of apoptosis defects to the development of autoimmunity. In in vivo studies, ALPS patients manifested greatly increased circulating levels of IL-10 (> 100-fold), compared with both healthy individuals and various disease controls; in contrast, their levels of IL-1 beta, IL-4, and IFN-gamma were normal and their levels of IL-2 and TNF-alpha were marginally increased. In parallel in vitro studies, ALPS patients CD4+ DR+ T cells stimulated either with anti-CD3/CD28 or anti-CD2/CD28 produced increased amounts of IL-4 and IL-5 (10 to 20-fold) and decreased amounts of IFN-gamma (4-fold) as compared with those of control CD4+ DR+ T cells. In contrast, ALPS patients' CD4-/CD8- T cells produced very low amounts of cytokines. Finally, ALPS patients' peripheral monocytes/macrophages produced decreased amounts of IL-12 (30-fold) and increased amounts of IL-10 (5-fold). In conclusion, ALPS is marked by the presence of DR+ T cells that exhibit a skewed Th2 cytokine response upon various forms of stimulation. This cytokine response, in the presence of increased circulating IL-10 levels, is likely to define the cytokine milieu that accounts for the humoral autoimmune features of ALPS and, perhaps, of other humoral autoimmune states.

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