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Eur Heart J. 2011 May;32(10):1214-26. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq499. Epub 2011 Jan 8.

Expansion of CD4+CD28null T-lymphocytes in diabetic patients: exploring new pathogenetic mechanisms of increased cardiovascular risk in diabetes mellitus.

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Institute of Cardiology, Catholic University, Largo A. Gemelli, Rome, Italy.



Diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with high incidence of first and recurrent cardiovascular events, especially acute coronary syndromes (ACSs); however, the mechanisms involved are still unknown. We sought to investigate the role of CD4(+)CD28(null)T-lymphocytes, a rare long-lived subset of T-lymphocytes with proatherogenic and plaque-destabilizing properties, in the increased cardiovascular risk associated with DM.


CD4(+)CD28(null)T-cell frequency was analysed by flow-cytometry in 60 DM patients without overt cardiovascular disease (cDM), in 166 ACS patients with or without DM (ACS/DM+, n= 51 and ACS/DM-, n= 115), and in 60 healthy individuals. The incidence of cardiovascular events (death, myocardial infarction, unstable angina) was assessed at 36 months follow-up. CD4+CD28(null)T-cell frequency (median, range) was higher in ACS/DM+ (12.7%, 0.1-48) vs. ACS/DM- (3.9%, 0.2-35), cDM (3.1%, 0.3-22.4), and controls (1.5%, 0.1-9.1) (P< 0.001 for all comparisons). Notably, cDM patients had significantly higher CD4+CD28(null)T-cell frequency than controls (P= 0.001). Glycosylated haemoglobin A(1c) was the only parameter independently associated with CD4+CD28(null)T-cells in cDM. The 36-month event-free survival was significantly lower in cDM patients with CD4+CD28(null)T-cells ≥4% (90th percentile of normal distribution) than in those with CD4+CD28(null)T-cells <4% (P= 0.039). Among ACS patients, the 36-month event-free survival was the lowest in those with DM and CD4+CD28(null)T-cells ≥4% and highest in those without DM and CD4+CD28(null)T-cells <4% (P< 0.001), being intermediate in those with only one of these features.


In DM patients, CD4+CD28(null)T-cells are expanded and are associated with poor glycaemic control; they also correlate with the occurrence of a first cardiovascular event and with a worse outcome after an ACS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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