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Eur J Haematol. 2002 May;68(5):299-306.

Intracellular T cell cytokines in patients with B cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (B-CLL).

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1
Immune and Gene Therapy Laboratory, Cancer Center Karolinska, Karolinska Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

Analysis of cytokine production is a tool to functionally characterise T cells. In this study, spontaneous and polyclonal activation induced cytokine production in T cells were assessed by flow cytometry in patients with B-CLL. Patients with progressive disease had a significantly increased number of T cells spontaneously producing IL-2, IL-4 and GM-CSF as compared to healthy donors and patients with non-progressive CLL, which was not the case for TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma producing T cells. However, no difference in the frequency of T cells producing these cytokines was seen comparing patients with non-progressive disease to control donors. Polyclonal activation of B-CLL T cells in vitro induced an increased proportion of T cells producing these five cytokines in patients as well as in control donors, indicating that T cells in CLL patients might have a relatively well preserved functional capacity. However, the increase in GM-CSF, TNF-alpha and IL-4 producing T cells was more marked in CLL patients than in controls. Furthermore, following activation, a higher frequency of cytokine-producing T cells was noted in patients with progressive disease as compared to those with non-progressive disease. The augmented number of cytokine-producing T cells in CLL may indicate an up-regulated capability of T cells to secrete cytokines, especially in patients with progressive CLL. The increased production of the T cell derived cytokines GM-CSF, TNF-alpha, IL-4 and IL-2 is interesting, as these cytokines have previously been shown to support growth of B-CLL leukaemic cells in vitro and as T cells might specifically recognise the autologous leukaemic B cells in vivo. The findings may suggest a role for T cells in the pathogenesis of B-CLL.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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