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Blood. 2006 Apr 15;107(8):3045-52. Epub 2005 Dec 29.

Human ICOS deficiency abrogates the germinal center reaction and provides a monogenic model for common variable immunodeficiency.

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Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Hospital, Freiburg, Germany.


The homozygous deletion of the inducible costimulator (ICOS), an activation-induced member of the CD28 family on T cells, causes an antibody deficiency syndrome in affected humans. The identification of a total of 9 ICOS-deficient patients revealed that this monogenic disease comprises the full clinical phenotype described for common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), including recurrent bacterial infections, adult as well as childhood onset, splenomegaly, autoimmune phenomena (autoimmune neutropenia), intestinal lymphoid hyperplasia, and malignancy (carcinoma of the vulva). All patients exhibited a profound hypogammaglobulinemia and a disturbed B-cell homeostasis. The severe reduction of class-switched memory B cells resulted from poor germinal center formation in the absence of ICOS. The additional decrease of naive B cells was associated with a partial inhibition of the early B-cell development at the pre-B-I stage. T-cell homeostasis seemed not to be affected, but low IL-10 production by ICOS-deficient T cells may contribute to the disturbed germinal center reaction. Human ICOS deficiency is indistinguishable from CVID and thus serves as a monogenic model for this complex syndrome.

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