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J Immunol. 2009 May 1;182(9):5515-27. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803256.

Impaired CD4 and CD8 effector function and decreased memory T cell populations in ICOS-deficient patients.

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Department of Pediatrics and Developmental Biology, Graduate School of Medical and Dental Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.


Interaction of ICOS with its ligand is essential for germinal center formation, T cell immune responses, and development of autoimmune diseases. Human ICOS deficiency has been identified worldwide in nine patients with identical ICOS mutations. In vitro studies of the patients to date have shown only mild T cell defect. In this study, we report an in-depth analysis of T cell function in two siblings with novel ICOS deficiency. The brother displayed mild skin infections and impaired Ig class switching, whereas the sister had more severe symptoms, including immunodeficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial pneumonitis, and psoriasis. Despite normal CD3/CD28-induced proliferation and IL-2 production in vitro, peripheral blood T cells in both patients showed a decreased percentage of CD4 central and effector memory T cells and impaired production of Th1, Th2, and Th17 cytokines upon CD3/CD28 costimulation or PMA/ionophore stimulation. The defective polarization into effector cells was associated with impaired induction of T-bet, GATA3, MAF, and retinoic acid-related orphan nuclear hormone receptor (RORC). Reduced CTLA-4(+)CD45RO(+)FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells and diminished induction of inhibitory cell surface molecules, including CTLA-4, were also observed in the patients. T cell defect was not restricted to CD4 T cells because reduced memory T cells and impaired IFN-gamma production were also noted in CD8 T cells. Further analysis of the patients demonstrated increased induction of receptor activator of NF-kappaB ligand (RANKL), lack of IFN-gamma response, and loss of Itch expression upon activation in the female patient, who had autoimmunity. Our study suggests that extensive T cell dysfunction, decreased memory T cell compartment, and imbalance between effector and regulatory cells in ICOS-deficient patients may underlie their immunodeficiency and/or autoimmunity.

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