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Leuk Lymphoma. 2013 May;54(5):1012-9. doi: 10.3109/10428194.2012.728287. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Regulatory T-cells in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia: their role in disease progression and autoimmune cytopenias.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.


Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) have been shown to be important for the balance of autoimmunity and oncogenesis. Tregs have a protective role in autoimmune diseases and conversely promote oncogenesis. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is unique in being at the cross-roads of oncogenesis and autoimmunity. We studied Tregs, defined as CD4+CD25(high)CD127(low)FOXP3+, in 32 treatment-naive patients with CLL. Our study shows that patients with CLL had a higher absolute Treg count than the control group (p < 0.001). A progressive increase of Tregs was noted in advanced stages of the disease (p < 0.001). The increase in absolute Treg count is more significant than the increase in percentage Tregs. The absolute Treg count appears to be more important in disease pathogenesis. The absolute Treg count was significantly higher in those patients having autoimmune cytopenias. There was an inverse correlation between lymphocyte doubling time and absolute Treg count (p = 0.03). The absolute Treg count may be used as a prognostic marker in CLL.

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